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Quality and numbers of professional recruits in decline warns Construction Industry Council

Posted: 5th December 2007

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) launched their Professional Services Survey on the 4 December at One Whitehall Place. CIC Chief Executive Graham Watts introduced the event which was followed by presentations on the research findings and methodology; the event was attended by key industry stakeholders.

The UK Construction Professional Services (CPS) sector – which includes professions such as engineering, architecture and surveying – currently employs 270,000 people, and requires 12,000 competent new professionals to enter the industry every year to meet demand as major projects such as the Olympics gather speed. Added pressure is being put on the industry because 20% of current CPS professionals could retire in the next 10 years.

Parallel research by CIC revealed that that 70% of CPS firms believe that a shortage of recruits is the biggest problem facing the £13.9 billion industry. A worrying 74% of CPS firms have found that job applicants are likely to be lacking the necessary technical skills.

Over 50% of all CPS firms anticipate recruitment difficulties over the next year and with student numbers on Built Environment courses having dropped by 28% since 2003/4, the industry is struggling to attract high caliber young professionals into the sector.

The CIC research also found that:
• All CPS firms reported some difficulties in recruitment with between 40% and 53% reporting ‘hard to fill’ vacancies.
• The main cause of recruitment difficulties was a low number of applicants with required skills, resulting in the majority of firms having to increase workload for other staff.
CPS employers believe that the quality of recruits, who are either graduate level, part-qualified members of professional institutions or trained to other levels, has declined.

The skills gap is most pronounced in Building Services Engineering firms. Mark Way, Director of Skills, CIC, commented: “This research demonstrates the value of the contribution made to the UK economy by Professional Services and emphasises the scale of the professional input necessary to support the current levels of UK construction activity. The lack of a whole range of key skills in recruits is of real concern; a problem compounded by a future shortage of potential recruits.”