A Recruiter’s Perspective on the Farmer Report

Ionic Recruitment’s Managing Director, Martyn Makinson, talks to Future Constructor & Architect about the findings in the Farmer report and how it affects the construction recruitment industry.

The Farmer report created a stir in the construction industry at the start of UK Construction Week, with looming headlines predicting the demise of the construction industry, rising taxes and a massively diminishing workforce. The Author, Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consulting, a real estate and construction consultancy firm, was approached to investigate the structural vulnerability of skills shortages in the industry.

Workforce

Housebuilding Sector: Forecast Workforce vs Required Workforce

 On average over the next 10 years, we will have just over half the workforce needed to meet the Government’s plans to build 250,000 homes by 2021.

Sadly, this may come as no surprise to those in construction, with reports of bricklayers already in high demand earning £40k a year. The CITB highlighted the numbers of workers needed in each trade over the next four years, with joiners, painters and decorators predicted to be in high demand in the North West.

Next generation

Housebuilding Sector: New Entrants and Leavers

Alarmingly, the report states that based on a year-on-year average, four times as many workers will be leaving the construction industry over the next 10 years. The introduction of CSCS has increased accountability and safety on construction sites, but with entry-level labourers having to pay (on average) £125 for the health and safety course and £50 for the test and CSCS card, this may well create barriers for new entrants into the industry.

Training demands

Proportion of employers providing training, by sectors

The construction industry is below average for employers providing training support in the UK. That being said, grants are available for CSCS labourer cards; if businesses are CITB registered, levy paying companies can claim £50 per worker towards the health and safety course.

With the construction industry failing to upskill their current employees, and talks of a hard or soft Brexit, the UK could face not having the depth and breadth of experience that many of our EU counterparts bring into the UK economy. This could see long-term projects put on hold or shelved all together if trained workers cannot be sourced.

Possible solutions

All those involved with identifying new talent for the construction industry should be prepared to educate the unskilled. Mark Farmer proposes the ‘carrier bag charge’ approach of taxing companies that don’t provide proof of implementing the changes needed, such as training and talent acquisition.

So much more could be done by recruiters, clients, training centres and, most importantly, the Government to ensure that everyone is aware and given access to the training grants that are available. This could be approached through company training programs or outsourcing via organisations such as the CITB. Further encouragement should be directed towards development and highlighting the path to the skilled trades, management roles and prospects of a career in construction.

Ionic Recruitment has been giving back to the industry by building relationships with training providers, job centres and universities to encourage more people to join the construction industry. We also partner with several training providers that provide funding for CSCS cards to enable more individuals to enter the industry. Ionic stresses the importance of career development and advises candidates how to upskill to further their careers. Action needs to be taken to ensure that we are all investing the necessary time, effort and energy to safeguard the future of the construction industry.

As featured in the December issue of Future Constructor and Architect Magazine.