Research from the Association for Project Safety (APS) has found that the UK’s built environment is at risk of becoming less safe as the industry fails to attract new staff.
A new survey of APS members shows job vacancies around the country are being filled by people moving from firm to firm rather than the construction sector bringing in new blood or attracting fresh talent.
The situation is compounded by almost half of the ageing workforce [45-75] – which makes up 81% of the sector – thinking of retirement, and the pipeline of new staff being closed off due to Brexit.
Meanwhile, vacancies in construction design risk management are being filled but at increased cost and possibly reduced levels of skill and experience.
Commenting on the concerning findings, Ray Bone, president at APS, said: “Construction safety is at risk because fewer new people are coming into the industry. At the moment, people are getting tapped on the shoulder and leaving an existing role in the construction industry to go to new jobs for higher salaries. It can only be assumed employers are accepting alternative qualifications and less experience to get the people they want.
“The construction sector is consuming itself – it’s eating its own tail. This can’t go on indefinitely as the pool of well-qualified and experienced construction safety professionals is drying up. That group is ageing and thinking about retiring and there just isn’t the new blood coming in behind them to make sure the UK’s construction sector stay safe in the future. This could have serious consequences for everyone involved in the built environment and will have an impact not just on construction workers but on the wellbeing of people who live, work and maintain everything we build.
“The construction sector needs to take a hard look at itself and work harder to be a job of choice for high calibre people looking for interesting and rewarding careers. It cannot be denied the industry has an image problem but the APS is also calling on the government to help in the medium term by taking another look at the people we are able to attract from the EU so the industry can bring in fresh people while it works to develop home grown talent of our own.”