The Hole in the Plan

After the Chancellor’s Spending Review the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) published an article on their website stating that the proposed build of 400,000 new homes could be ‘scuppered’ by the skills shortage in the construction industry. I recruit for trades and labour roles for social housing repairs and have seen the demand for candidates over the past year increase, fast.

As new positions become available in construction, interest in them will be extremely high, a warning that fewer candidates will be available for repairs roles. This could be due to the new construction sites being willing to pay higher as well as those candidates who are not willing to travel to properties on various locations, seeking the benefits of being based at just one new build site. Housing associations need to move quickly to stop the possible exodus of quality trades people.

Filling the gaps is not easy and training takes time and costs money. I have noticed that within the trades and labour sector, there are very few social housing organisations that will offer the opportunity of apprenticeships for school leavers. This means that they must consider other options to bring in and retain the best possible candidates.

In my opinion, I think it’s extremely important that clients make a career progression path attractive to all candidates. Many candidates that I have dealt with believe that clear progression is important to developing their skill sets and their knowledge within the sector. It’s true, this is a very money driven sector, and with more responsibility comes more pay which candidates also find attractive. They rightly believe that with a high skill set and responsibility, a decent pay rate should be received. Candidates will not carry out specific roles without being paid competitive market rates.

Clients should ensure that they maintain a good reputation within the trades and labour market. My stronger candidates do not regularly update their CV online but instead move by word of mouth from colleagues they worked with on different social housing projects. This a market that very actively networks and this is an important factor when looking for quality candidates. Additionally if you’re not working to keep your staff happy, they could lose productivity, resign and this could lead to the association gaining a bad reputation in the industry. A company that’s reputable will be a great attraction to most candidates, as it’s more likely to give them job satisfaction.

I think the demand for skilled trades and labour candidates will definitely continue to increase across the next 6 months. On an almost daily basis, maintenance contracts and construction contracts are awarded within the housing sector across the UK.  This leads to ever changing demand for trades and labour staff.  This means companies must adapt their strategies in order to train, retain and continue to attract the best people.

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