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Leadership on skills can give your firm the edge

The first step to solving a problem is recognising you have one.

When it comes to the skills crisis in construction, the industry is well past this point.

Everyone knows there are not enough people in the industry right now and not enough new people joining.

But that’s where the agreement tends to end. There is broad consensus on the size of the problem but not on how to tackle it.

The danger is that the skills crisis gets put into a box marked ‘too difficult to deal with’, and it is simply too important for that.

There are a number of reasons why it can seem overwhelming.

Called a ‘crisis’ for a reason

First, no individual company can solve the problem, so there is a danger that you invest in your future workforce, see no immediate improvements and have no guarantee that the long-term benefits will accrue to your business either.

“The danger is that the skills crisis gets put into a box marked ‘too difficult to deal with’, and it is simply too important for that”

Second, there is no single solution to the problem.

Third, it is really difficult – and ideas on how to attract new recruits, for example, may not come easily to those who’ve worked in the industry for years and are used to the way it operates.

But in case that leaves you feeling depressed, hope and practical advice are at hand.

This week we publish Changing Perceptions – a collection of the very best industry practice in tackling the skills crisis.

Skills advice on the go

Every day this week we have been publishing articles and video on the Construction News website highlighting construction companies’ very real successes – great for bitesize inspiration at your desk or on the go.

The articles are also available in the supplement published with this magazine. Read the articles together and the skills crisis starts to seem less daunting.

The same themes surface throughout: engage children early, capture their imaginations, set them problems to solve.

“Put in place bespoke training programmes to encourage ex-offenders or former military personnel to join your business”

Seek out under-represented groups – from women to disabled people to the LGBT community – and use those already in your workforce to tell you how to provide a better experience for them.

Don’t wait for your clients to tell you to raise your ambitions.

Put in place bespoke training programmes to encourage ex-offenders or former military personnel to join your business.

And most important of all: show leadership – and not just at the top of your organisation.

Yes, CEOs need to demonstrate that creating a diverse and inclusive workforce is important to them personally.

But to really embed a shift in culture – and to solve the problem we’re all agreed the industry faces – everyone needs to make changes.

It’s not as difficult as it first seems.

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