17th June 2015

How’d you solve a problem like the skills shortage?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, then you’ll know the UK is in the throes of a skills shortage across multiple sectors, but in particular, within the construction industry.

With the Government challenging housebuilders to build 240,000 homes per year, commercial and retail construction on the increase, and new infrastructure projects being awarded daily, it’s clear that the UK needs a skilled and ready workforce to meet demand. However, recruits to the construction industry are at one of their lowest levels for some time, with Construction Skills estimating over 44,000 new entrants needed to maintain the sector.

So what do we do about it?

Across the sector, there are lots of initiatives which have been developed to tackle the skills shortage head on.

Building Lives

Construction News has leant its support to Building Lives – an initiative that helps Londoners stay afloat while completing their apprenticeships in the capital. Through its #loveLIVES campaign, Construction News has raised £400,000 in just 50 days having attracted support from backers such as KPMG, Bellway and Mace.

Get Britain Building

This £420m investment fund is designed to support small and medium sized builders in being better resourced and getting stalled projects moving again. The initiative has attracted high profile partners such as the Federation of Master Builders, the Home Builders Federation and the Builders Merchants Foundation.

Bricks and Get Britain Building leaflet


Led from Number 10, this social media campaign is all about instilling pride into the construction workforce and demonstrating how absolutely central those working in the industry are in maintaining and growing the UK economy out of recession.


Open Doors Weekend

The Open Doors Weekend is an initiative set up by the UK Contractors Group to let young people go behind the scenes on projects such as Crossrail and the Forth Bridge, giving them a unique insight into what it’s like to work on one the UK’s biggest construction projects.

While just a snapshot, as these examples show, there is a lot being done within the sector to address the skills deficit – whether that’s by raising cash, instilling pride or painting construction as a more attract career choice.

Yet, through working with Tangerine client, Class of Your Own, it’s become very apparent to me that what the UK really needs is a more joined up approach between industry and education. To this end, in July, Class of Your Own is bringing together leaders in UK construction (the event has already attracted active support from Peter Hansford, Government Chief Construction Advisor, and executives from companies Mott McDonald and Turner & Townsend) along with the country’s educators to explore the growing skills crisis.

By getting school and industry leaders around the table to discuss both the challenges and the opportunities surrounding education in the built environment, Class of Your Own hopes to determine how we can practically address this issue before it gets even worse.

This joined up thinking and closer collaboration is something that Tangerine itself has successfully pioneered in the world of social media through its Juice Academy and with fantastic results. By creating the UK’s first industry-led social media apprenticeship and (quite literally) getting students, educators and employers in the same room via its ‘boot camp’ events, the Juice Academy has, to date, got over 80 young people into employment and training since its formation in 2013.

As the Juice Academy shows, with genuine collaboration and action from all sides, huge strides can be made. And it’s through this positive action that you can start to solve a problem like the skills shortage. Here’s hoping that the Class of Your Own event next month is as fruitful for the wonderful world of construction.

By Jo Hart, B2B Senior Account Director