CIC Blog: skills
Built Environment Skills in Schools (BESS)
Construction is a robust sector, literally and metaphorically, and we have overcome many challenges before. I can only imagine that this is why we've never reached a pain threshold that compels us, as a united sector, to tackle the skills gap. I'm no economist, but rumours of a post-Brexit mini recession (source: Construction News, 27/7/2016) do suggest it is so important that we take responsibility for the skills gap - each and every one of us - right now.
Complaining about the skills shortage is easy (and a definitive sign that we still haven't yet reached an adequate pain point), and the barriers to action are real and significant – shortage of time, resources, staff turnover, and capacity to name a few. On the face of it, that doesn't even make it sound like a very appealing sector to join. In fact from 2013 to 2014, favourability of the industry fell for both parents and young people (source: CITB).
Nevertheless, results from CITB's review of the Young Apprentice Programme indicate that only 10% of construction employers had engaged with schools for career-related activities. 10%! No wonder children don't consider construction to be worth their time (34.6% in 2014, down from 38.2% in 2013).
75% of construction employers found young people lacked understanding of the construction sector, and 82% of teachers didn't feel that they had the appropriate knowledge to advise pupils on their careers (source: IFF 2015). I don't think it would be too much of a leap to suggest that those statistics are related. We are perpetuating the cycle of poor awareness and low desirability, and possibly even increasing the damage by presenting a disjointed, patchy, sporadic, siloed sector.
Could this all be because construction has traditionally been a male-dominated sector? We all know that male traits lean towards competition rather than collaboration. Yet collaboration is still the buzzword at every event, roundtable, networking breakfast and press briefing. Perhaps we're just making the concept of 'collaborating' really hard on ourselves. Or we're waiting for someone else to collaborate for us?
Naturally, all this is important as the skills gap has an impact on our existing requirement to build (particularly housing), but it also has a massive impact on each and every one of us as individuals - the homes we live in, the buildings we work in, the infrastructure we rely on – and at a socio-economic level, with the prevalence of anti-social behaviour, disconnected communities, and low-level mental health conditions.
So, I suggest we collaborate on finding ways to collaborate.
Think about the resources and skills you have in your own organisation. It could be a good-sized meeting room. Or PPE in lots of different sizes. Or transport, or access to site equipment, or software licenses, or demonstration facilities, or strong social media channels, or enthused staff. Or something completely different.
Now pick up the phone or draft an email to someone else in your supply chain and ask them what kind of problems they face in trying to engage with education. Then talk to people involved in addressing the skills gap alongside education, as they'll be able to help you navigate around those problems. (It’s what we do, and we're a great source of advice!) And together you can come up with powerful ways to support each other, create more consistent engagement, and fill some of those outreach gaps.
Once you're taking collaborative action, you might want to introduce some metrics to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. It could even be that someone else in your supply chain is a wizard with metrics – what a great way to get them involved and increase the collaboration!
If you're not involved in addressing the skills gap as an individual, I urge you to take action. Talk to your colleagues, discuss ways forward and be part of the solution. If its something your company already does, that's great too, but what are you doing personally? At the risk of sounding like a cliché, if you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Nobody is going to do this for us and now more than ever the impact of the skills gap will be felt across construction.
And when you arrive at the Grange St Paul's Hotel for the Construction Industry Summit in September, and you're ready to work the room, perhaps consider using this practical collaboration approach as an ice-breaker.
Contributor: Kathryn Lennon Johnson is a behavioural change specialist and founder of 'Built Environment Skills in Schools', a nationwide platform established to connect all the dots of skills and careers engagement in construction using experiential tools like gamification, simulations, virtual and augmented reality, apps and social media.
Kathryn will be speaking at the Construction Industry Summit as part of the Delivering the Future’ Session.
Executive Coach, Inspirational Speaker, Author. Philanthropist. Extreme Adventurer.
We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. The BIG Data is doubling every six months and disruptive technologies are introduced daily. The workforce and client pools are changing with the generation Y, Millennials and increased mobility. The business and product life cycles have been significantly reduced. The values are shifting in the corporate world with one in four youth enterprises having a social angle, with more women at all business levels than a decade ago and social responsibility attached to most mission statements.
To lead and achieve business success in the new world of driverless cars, drones delivering packages, 3D printers producing things and university curricula available on line for free, we need an altered approach. The old leadership paradigm will not stick.
We need leaders who are skillful in allowing insights, who can feel the future, who are able to build deep and meaningful relationships in every corporate direction. Leaders, who are humble, disciplined and personally mature – comfortable with giving trust and with ‘not knowing’. There is a need to develop leaders who can take themselves out of the picture and allow the natural talents of their teams to come through.
Maturing for a leader starts with developing awareness - awareness of the self and seeing the Meta level of how your team ‘is’ and ‘is not’ and how it functions. That extends to the stakeholders, clients, suppliers and the market. With the knowledge of yourself and of the part, you played in becoming who you are as well as what you bring to the table as a person you can start taking full responsibility for yourself in the office. You might be asking yourself – what does she mean by that? I mean taking responsibility for your intentions through your thoughts, words, actions, habits to your character and the future you create for yourself, your team and your company.
When you can identify how you ‘show up’ in your role, you want to work on emotional intelligence, recognition and self-regulation of mental and behavioral patterns and owning yourself fully. You will become the ‘cause in the matter’ in every corporate and life situation – whatever the outcome. Your language will shift from the outside in. You will make all results yours only from accountability perspective.
The moment you can see your team through a camera of a contributor with emotional distance you start acting from a different place inside you. You not only are taking part in meetings but you become acutely aware of how every word, gesture and interaction lands and what it does to the motivation, atmosphere and the environment you – the leader - shape.
With time you can see that making a mistake is positive, experimenting and course correcting is part of a response to the emergent future that will always be unknown and you cannot fully prepare for it. You start developing intuition - the nudge inside you that knows what your rational brain does not. You become an expert in unleashing and nurturing real creativity where there is no judgment and no fixed rules to go by.
Not taking yourself too seriously and connecting to yourself on a new level allows your presence to grow and deepen. When you speak or present and 80% of your attention is on you, you are listened to, all of your words have purpose. Being conscious of your subtle projections you start moderating conversations to a new richness of experience for the people that work and transact with you. That creates followership and charisma forms.
Reframing becomes a natural aptitude to see an advantage in a disadvantage. With the right mindset and attitude you reexamine FEAR into an emotional state you control, live with and thrive on as a leader.
Developing competence in being mindful allows you not only to be with the reality as it is but also to sharpen your senses to be fully available. It expands your palette of possible responses to what is happening in business, between you and other people and you become able to call on emotional resilience, courage, positivity and other useful states that your body knows from the past but they are buried into the subconscious and rarely used as a resources for business success.
Allowing your team to fully develop their natural potential requires egolessness. When you can differentiate the protective ego – the personality – from the core of your being you free yourself up to fully lead without limits with self-trust, vulnerability and alertness. As you project your full maturity people around you ‘get infected’ and become autonomous, self-reliant and also dependent on the grater whole of which they are a part. Your organisation becomes self-organising and self-regulating in a constant, intimate dance with the market.
Constributor: Ania left Poland in ‘96 with one bag on a bus to study at London School of Economics. Since then she’s visited 67 countries, lived in 9, worked in 17 at Senior Executive levels in financial services. Ania has built, grown, restructured, liquidated and integrated businesses in 4 languages. She has double MSc, MBA and PhD in International Leadership.
For further information about Ania click here
CIC Deputy Chairman & Senior Partner at Gardiner and Theobald LLP
The recent forecasts for the UK economy suggest that, at last, things may be improving. The governor at the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said that the UK recovery has taken hold and expects un-employment to fall sooner than was forecast.
In the construction sector we are also coming round to the idea that we can at last look forward rather than backwards. Whilst this is very positive, we need to consider the impact it will have on resources. With renewed growth comes the need for more people and skills.
As we emerged from the last recession we entered a skills shortage. It took the construction industry about 15 years to replace the more than half a million people it had lost.
As we emerge from this recession, which is widely acknowledged as the longest and deepest in memory, we are likely to face the same critical shortage of skills. We are also entering a time when we will see more people retiring from the industry than new entrants joining it.
Additionally, evidence is already emerging of greater mobility in the workplace with people moving for ‘better offers’. So, unless we increase the supply of skills and people joining the industry, all we will see is an increase in the cost of employing those people already with us. I am very much in favour of paying people what they are worth but I do not want to see enforced salary escalation caused by a skills supply shortage. Particularly as this still leaves too many people working too hard through a continued lack of resource.
It is therefore vital that all of us involved in construction and property work together to inspire the next and future generations of school leavers and convince them that they can have full and rewarding careers in our sector.
This must involve not just employers, but professional bodies and academic institutions, and a strong positive leadership from Government and the Construction Leadership Council.
The Chief Construction Advisor, Peter Hansford, has called for us all to “get out there and shout about construction”. He puts the people aspect of Construction 2025 at the top of the agenda with a positive campaign to change the image of construction.
As part of this campaign, we need to start with education. How many young people in schools, if asked to name a profession, would readily quote a profession from our industry? We need to become an industry of choice for both boys and girls making choices about their future career.
The National Careers Service website needs to be revamped for construction (as it is going to be for engineering). Search terms need rethinking so that those researching a career in construction can actually learn about it. At the moment, it seems that you already need to know what a quantity surveyor (QS) is if you have any hope of finding it on that site. And once you do find it, the information on there is inaccurate and certainly does not describe the career I’ve enjoyed!
Next we need to look at diversity. Only 14% of people involved in construction are women, and only 2% are from ethnic minorities.
Of qualified QSs in the UK and Ireland, only 8% are women and 4% are from ethnic minorities. For trainee QSs the figures rise to 15% women and 12% ethnic minorities. (The latter is the only figure that is representative of the UK working population).
Across the whole industry the figures are rising but we clearly have a lot to do. The recent ‘Open Door’ initiative from the UK Construction Group has allowed people to see how we go about creating the fabulous buildings which remain as our marketing collateral for 50, 60 or more years.
And there are many other initiatives from various parts of the industry. If we are to have enough resource with the right skill, we need a whole industry initiative to attract talent into our sector. Without this we will simply not have enough resource or the skill base to deliver the construction projects, building and infrastructure that we already know will be needed.
Finally, we need to look at funding. As a response to the skills shortage in engineering, Business Secretary, Vince Cable, recently announced a number of measures to attract people to that profession, which is backed by almost £50 million of funding from various sources.
This is EXACTLY the kind of positive leadership we need to see to attract talented young people to the construction professions.
We should all support Peter Hansford in his cry to change the image of our industry and shout about construction. We cannot create good people with vital skills overnight but we do need to start now if we are to achieve the vision for our industry set out in Construction 2025.
So can construction get the same support as engineering? With the links between industry and Government at a better level and stronger than at any time in my career I would like to think that we can.
Contributor: Tony Burton is Deputy Chairman of the Construction Industry Council and Senior Partner at Gardiner and Theobald LLP. For more information on Tony and Gardiner & Theobald visit http://www.gardiner.com/