It is always helpful to engage with fellow industry professionals as we seek to improve UK construction, and I am looking forward to presenting with my SkillsPlanner colleague Chris Dransfield at next month’s CIRIA half-day conference, “Addressing the skills gap“, in London on 6 July 2016.
As you would expect of a research and information organisation, the CIRIA event will look at recent and current surveys and academic research highlighting current shortages and gaps in skills (some of which have previously been discussed on our SkillsPlanner blog), including:
The CITB CSN, for example, predicts sustained growth from 2016-2020 of 2.5% every year and says we could require 232,000 new jobs, driven largely by infrastructure and private housing, with new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point, Somerset, and Wylfa, Anglesey, alongside rail projects such as Crossrail and HS2, and increases in house-building.
The CIRIA conference will explore current industry initiatives, research and trends within the construction skills gap area, and will enable the sharing of ideas and best practice through presentations and discussion relating to these initiatives and trends. We are looking forward to discussing:
- How can we make the construction industry more attractive to graduates and school leavers and what are the barriers to attracting new talent?
- What are the current models of graduate schemes and apprenticeships and what initiatives are currently challenging and improving these processes?
- What are the future skills (digital, off site manufacturing, sustainability skills) that we need develop through staff training and apprenticeships, and how can we diversify the opportunities for people entering the construction sector?
- How can we ensure supportive and inclusive environments and improve retention rates?
- Can skills provision adapt to accommodate changing construction environments and technologies?
If these are questions that you have been asking in your own organisations, it would be great to meet you at the conference on 6 July.
The Construction Industry Council, the representative forum for professional bodies, research organisations and specialist business associations in the UK construction industry, has just published its latest diversity data benchmarking report. A Blueprint for Change (download here) gives insights into the industry’s progress since the first CIC Diversity Panel report was published in 2009, ahead of the introduction of the 2010 Equality Act.
The report indicates that:
- there has been a 1% increase in the number of female professionals in the construction workforce (the industry professions remain male-dominated, with men making up 85.9%)
- the gender mix in industry varies with age with a notable increase in females aged 25 and under
- more people are due to retire than are joining the industry at a young age
- only two of the participating institutions gather data on sexual orientation
- the religious profile of the industry remains the same as in 2009
- among those who choose to disclose ethnicity, the BAME population is 11.3% of the industry
- less than 5% of the industry declare disability
- consultancy is outperforming other areas of industry in attracting women and people from BAME
The report’s findings were collated from data supplied by a number of CIC member institutions. Sample sizes varied for each category because of the protected characteristics on which data is held, the classifications of some of those protected characteristics, and the varying disclosure rates. CIC Project Manager, Danna Walker, said:
“In order to achieve a truly reflective benchmark for industry we need everyone to agree to collect the same categories of information, and for more institutions to get involved and collaborate. If we can’t measure it, we can’t manage it and improve!”
A Blueprint for Change features case studies demonstrating pockets of activity to support industry practitioners (one is SkillsPlanner partner Thames Tideway’s Women Returners Programme – mentioned in a previous post Catch them when they’re older) and calls on industry to undertake three major actions:
- address the needs of a multi-generational workforce, particularly in terms of retention, and focus efforts on attracting new entrants and building on the successes of attracting a more diverse millennial cohort (just today, Construction News commented: “New blood is what is needed – not just young people but a more diverse workforce, including those of working age who have never worked in construction before”).
- provide greater support and celebrate inclusive activities and in particular those led by practitioners who are creating positive impact
- collaboration from the institutions to collect a wider range of data and for greater participation in the project (the next CIC Diversity Panel report will be published in 2018).
SkillsPlanner can help
We would certainly support each of these objectives. Addressing each one briefly:
- A key ambition of the SkillsPlanner project is to improve understanding of diversity within the construction industry and training provision, and we are already collaborating with several industry bodies to collect data about industry skills supply and demand and about relevant demographics.
- As a project focused on creation of a data-powered approach, the SkillsPlanner team can provide expertise on data collation, interpretation and visualisation, and could provide real-time evidence of the impacts made by participating practitioners.
- And collaboration is at the core of the project’s aim to deliver a real-time picture of the skills landscape, with some CIC member institutions already contributing to the project, alongside central and local government, industry and training providers.
We have written to Bridget Bartlett, chair of the CIC Diversity Panel, to explore if we can help.