Whilst exploring topics to add to our blog, it was really the intention to come up with something upbeat; something positive to write about in light of the past years of uncertainty and inevitable change.
In previous blogs we already touched on the pandemic, which has opened up a new world of hybrid working and has changed certain aspects of recruitment. According to the House of Commons update of March 2022, the age-groups mostly impacted by the pandemic in the labour market are those aged 18-24 and 65+.
The construction industry in particular has gone through and continues to experience turbulent times. Brexit, followed by Covid, shipping disruptions, rising fuel costs, and more recently the Russia/Ukraine conflict.
Key materials in short supply as a result of the latter include wood, iron, steel, nickel and certain transport equipment.
Russia itself has banned over 200 products from export until a least the end of 2022, including wood, vehicles and electrical equipment. Steel was hit with the biggest price hike in its history two months ago, British Steel blaming the war in Ukraine. In fact, prices have gone up more than 150%
It is safe to say the industry is sailing a storm right now, with project delays and subsequent problems sticking to budgets agreed. But in view of all of the above, it is easy to lose sight of the positive changes within construction.
For example, the number of people employed in the sector is rising; proof the industry is recovering well post-pandemic. Vacancies are at a 20-year high according to the National Office of Statistics.
The continuing growth of modular construction; better safety, cost effectiveness and speed, less people are needed to tackle certain jobs. Maybe finally, the construction industry can shake the reputation for being ‘dirty and dangerous’. As automation multiplies and software advances, new skills and roles are being created, attracting more diverse talent into the sector.
With the above in mind, there is now a greater demand for different roles within the industry. There are a variety of positions available that were certainly never heard of in 1970! The construction industry is becoming more attractive to the first generation of digital natives (also known as Gen Z or the i-generation). New, exciting talent is on the rise.
Sustainability: perhaps a buzz word, yet oh so important! There is a growing onus on not just more eco-friendly homes and structures, but implementing more sustainable ways to operate, zero waste, etc. Customers are becoming a lot more interested in the ethical side of things, like how materials are sourced, equal rights and the policies companies have with regard to this. Balfour Beatty is one of the companies leading the way by really embodying sustainability, investing in and increasing their manpower and building solid strategies for the future.
Again, this brings with it the more diverse variety of people attracted into the industry; a range of personalities that is more representative of the population at large.
While we all still feel the pressures of what lies behind us and try to cope with new trials raising their heads, there certainly are exciting things happening that we should be aware of – some accelerated by happenings in recent years. Let’s make a point of reminding ourselves now and then that the future is full of upcoming, revolutionary projects, and we will all get to see what this immense industry is capable of in the years to come.