It is vital that this negative spiral is now reversed.
Northern Ireland’s economic recovery can only be secured with a
buoyant construction sector at its core and issues ranging from
apprenticeships to the careers advice and guidance given in schools and
colleges must be high on government’s list of priorities.
Issues of note impacting industry skills
Issue: The construction industry faces a significant shortage of skills and talent, and it must adapt to changes driven by the green economy, digitalisation, and evolving manufacturing processes.
- Skills Shortage: The construction sector has a critical lack of new skills and talent entering the industry.
- Changing Landscape: Emerging trends like the green economy, digitisation, AI, and software development in construction necessitate upskilling and adapting to new technologies.
- Lack of Collaboration: The existing approach to addressing the skills shortage lacks collaboration among different stakeholders, including the sector, Trade Unions, CITBNI, Further/Higher Education, and private training providers.
- Construction Skills Forum: Establish a cross-sectoral Construction Skills Forum bringing together education, government, and industry to address industry challenges, particularly related to skills. This forum would be sponsored by an independent organisation for maximum impact.
- Apprenticeship Model Review: Evaluate and adapt the apprenticeship delivery model to better prepare trainees for site work, provide holistic learning experiences, and ensure continued employment after their apprenticeship.
- Enhanced Engagement with Education: Foster greater dialogue with educational institutions, including the private training sector, to align educational programs with on-site skills. This involves effective skills gap analysis, future planning, and flexible learning opportunities.
- Pay and Rewards Review: Review pay and rewards packages within the industry to make it more attractive for local employees, improve procurement processes, enhance pipeline visibility, and emphasise the benefits of a construction career.
- Technical Skills Development: Ensure technical skills training is widely accessible by providing continuous tutor support, multi-skilling trainees, and addressing existing skills gaps.
- School Promotion: Collaborate with primary and secondary schools to increase awareness of construction as a viable career option. This includes targeting students, providing career guidance, and adopting a more coordinated approach.