Skills shortage at breaking point - Research

Nearly 85% of public sector construction managers, and 58% of private sector contractors and suppliers cite the current skills shortage as negatively impacting the quality of their workmanship, as well as one in ten citing it as critically impacting their ability to keep to budget.

SCAPE’s new 'Sustainability in the Supply Chain' report, which surveyed over 150 contractors, subcontractors and senior managers at public sector organisations highlighted the stark realities of a skills shortage that’s at “breaking point”.

Critically, the report highlights a profound juxtaposition between the public and private sector when it comes to how they define a healthy supply chain, and what their primary aims are. Within the public sector 70% of those surveyed felt that providing long-term benefits for the local economy should be one of the biggest priorities, compared to 58% within the private sector.

Similarly, 67% of those surveyed in the public sector believed that local skills and suppliers is the most important element, whereas those surveyed in the private sector saw operational stability and minimising waste as more important factors.

Mark Robinson, SCAPE Chief Executive, comments: “Our research has shown that the skills shortage is at breaking point, not only severely impacting the quality of what we are building but also our ability to build it on budget. While there is a mountain to climb to overcome this challenge, basic recommendations can be put in place to ease the burden, for example, 19% of contractors and subcontractors still do not have an apprenticeship scheme.”

Peter Young, Kier Executive Director, Building UK, who operate the National Minor Works framework, comments: “This research offers important insight into the benefits of working collaboratively with local suppliers to create a long-term, sustainable supply chain. Kier is committed to working with local businesses and suppliers in the communities where we work, which spans projects nationwide from Aberdeen to Truro.”

Dean Banks, Managing Director of Construction Services at Balfour Beatty, SCAPE’s partner on the National Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework, comments: SCAPE’s research reveals a widespread focus on sustainable construction; that means supporting local businesses, inspiring a diverse group of talented individuals into the sector and ensuring the future demand for skilled labour is met. We are committed to delivering this as part of the SCAPE framework and are creating numerous opportunities for young adults and transforming the fortunes of young, talented people in the UK.”

Rick Willmott, Group Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon, SCAPE’s partner on the Major Works framework, comments: “I am extremely proud of Willmott Dixon’s achievements through our partnership with SCAPE, our shared values have allowed us to focus not only on offering efficient and cost-effective solutions but also on adding lasting value to the local communities we work in. Our common focus on SME engagement and growth has seen us set and achieve challenging targets for local spend. We are not complacent though and will continue to set a high benchmark that I hope will inspire other companies in our sector as we all use our economic influence to drive growth in the local supply chain.”