Do we have the skills to keep Britain moving?

Having engaged with over 400,000 students already across the UK through platforms such as Learn Live, we are committed to educating and inspiring our future workforce.

We are continually looking for new ways to work with schools, colleges and other educational establishments, to ensure that our industry has the robust domestic skill base required to deliver the major infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

The UK’s road system is one of its most valuable national assets. Forming the arteries around the country, a safe and suitable strategic road network is vital in connecting major cities, delivering goods from towns to villages and keeping people moving up and down the country.

It’s for these reasons that investment within the sector is ramping up and an ambitious road building and maintenance programme is underway.

Like many other sectors within the industry, there lies a critical issue behind the delivery of key highways infrastructure projects. In particular, the sector is under pressure due to an ongoing and increasing skills shortfall.

Christina Brown, HR Director at Balfour Beatty Highways, Investments, Plant & Fleet Services & Homes

The skills shortage in the construction and infrastructure industry is well known and documented with projections from the nearly 100,000 additional skilled workers by the end of the decade.

Looking forward

To do this, we must first signpost careers in construction and our industry to children from an early age, ensuring excellent careers advice and an effective transition into work by encouraging them to study relevant subjects, take up apprenticeships and pursue their careers in the sector. Our ongoing work with Learn LIVE and SCAPE is a key example of how we are actively doing this; providing students with the opportunity to join a live panel discussion with Balfour Beatty employees, virtually ‘meet’ graduates and ask questions through a live interactive broadcast.

To date, we have...

You can view the broadcast here.

Although these short-term steps are necessary, we must also become more strategic in meeting this challenge and do more as a sector to invest in innovation and techniques that will structurally reduce our reliance on such a large workforce.

Driving digital innovation

We have made significant progress in the past few years towards our vision to become a truly digitally empowered business. Investment in and development of internal expert capabilities such as the training of new drone Pilots, a digital surveying team and a notable increase in BIM (Building Information Modelling) related skills are starting to drive an increase in quality, a leaner approach and a safer working environment.

Additionally, we have a Digital Transformation Team, who drive the business to adopt existing and new digital technologies in everything we do. You can read more about our Digital Transformation Manager, Melanie Page, here.

As other companies begin to do the same, we believe the impact on the way the sector operates will be immeasurable and we are actively encouraging our supply chain to adopt these measures themselves.

Failing to address the skills gap in the highways sector will hold the industry back and put at risk the essential infrastructure the UK needs. Modernising and digitising our workforce and the way we deliver projects is key to upskilling, attracting and retaining the array of talent the sector requires to keeping Britain moving.

It is of the greatest importance that, with the second Road Investment Strategy coming into play in a few years, we make the changes necessary to secure the required skilled workforce to successfully and safely deliver these projects.

Christina Brown, HR Director at Balfour Beatty Highways, Investments, Plant & Fleet Services & Homes

Christina Brown HR Director Balfour Beatty 2 Written by:

Christina Brown

Christina Brown, HR Director at Balfour Beatty Highways, Investments, Plant & Fleet Services & Homes