British Infrastructure: Building a Sustainable Workforce

Rebekah Valero-Lee STEM

UK Infrastructure

It’s an exciting time for UK infrastructure, with the Government backing a number of major projects and talks of an even bigger pipeline that will transform the future of the industry.

In construction and engineering alone, the UK needs 400,000 new personnel by 2020. Yet the skills shortage is now at its highest level in 20 years and questions are being raised around whether we have access to the right skills and capacity to fill the thousands of jobs that will be created.

Hinkley Point C, for example, will provide some 25,000 construction jobs. The biggest project of its kind in Europe, the £18billion nuclear power station when completed will employ 900 staff and provide enough power for six million homes.

HS2 is also expected to create another 25,000 construction jobs and demands a higher skill set compared to other rail delivery schemes. It’s estimated that around half of the workforce will need level 3 skills, equivalent to A-level, yet around 80 per cent of the current construction workforce are only trained to level 2.

From September 2017, the National College for High Speed Rail will work to bridge this gap by providing training for more than 1,000 school leavers, career changers and those already working in the industry.

UK Infrastructure – Bridging the Gap

To deliver such a broad range of UK infrastructure schemes that also include a number of airport expansions and a million more homes by 2020, we’ve been casting the recruitment net outside of the traditional talent pool. In doing so, it’s opened up lucrative opportunities for those working outside of core sectors but that possess similar skill sets, such as ex-military personnel.

Capitalising on transferable skills can help to deal with peaks and troughs during infrastructure projects, as well as identifying ways to upskill other talent pools to enhance what they can offer and make a transition easier.

To meet rising demand, the UK also needs to double the number of engineering apprentices and graduates. The skills debate needs to remain a top priority for academics, with more effort needed to encourage young people into STEM related subjects, especially females. Doubling the number of women working in the sector would add an extra 96,000 people to the UK workforce.

The current perceptions of engineering and construction also need to be challenged by schools, teachers and parents. As well as encouraging close collaboration between industry and education, we need to ensure young people are equipped with the best tools, skills and knowledge to succeed in the industry.

To find out more about the opportunities available or the additional skills needed to make the move, contact us today on 0161 707 1516