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The construction industry has enjoyed a buoyant period over the last few years, and the forecasts for 2017 are again optimistic. New development, regeneration, infrastructure and highways projects are underway the length and breadth of the UK with many others in the pipeline.
Gattica Associates Limited has throughout this period experienced success and sustainable growth. As a result, we are expanding the business and have begun a recruitment drive that I believe will enable the company to continue its sustainable growth and to maintain its high level of service and quality, that’s the theory anyway!
While the forecasts are optimistic, the industry faces challenges that if not addressed could seriously affect it and those companies connected to it.
Dependent on what you read and where you read it the challenges are varied. They range from BREXIT, project complexity, environmental sustainability, technology adoption and even generational differences – as the age gap between those entering the industry with new ways of doing things, bringing with them emerging technologies and the highly skilled and experienced long-serving work-force widens.
However, in my opinion, there are a set of challenges that are common, familiar to us all and probably the biggest set of challenges that the industry and the companies within it face at this moment in time. These are the shortage of skilled workers in the industry, attracting young and new people into the industry and finally recruiting the right type of person with the right skill sets – approximately 70% of contractors say that they are having a difficult time finding qualified workers or professionals to fill positions.
Plus, with Theresa May now formally triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Agreement and dependent on the type of BREXIT we experience, we could potentially face a mass exodus of highly skilled and experienced migrant construction workers, all of which threatens to compound an already serious problem.
You and I could be forgiven for thinking that all is doom and gloom and that the above challenges are insurmountable. I believe they are surmountable, and there are lots of new initiatives both within the industry and individual companies that make me confident about the future. The industry, without a doubt, is making itself more attractive to those not already connected to it. Conditions have changed for the better and companies are prepared to invest in people.
At Gattica Associates Limited our strategy for addressing these industry-wide challenges with regards to people, skill levels, and recruitment is a proactive one. We believe that to attract people to our business and enhance it we have to invest in them and provide a climate where they can learn, grow and achieve. This strategy is not only from a financial perspective but from a time and effort one also.
When recruiting we actively search for people, not necessarily those with the complete skill sets, (although in an ideal world that is always desirable) that we require, but ones who show a willingness to learn, be proactive and demonstrate that they can solve problems. We then ensure that they are given the necessary on-going training, qualifications and mentoring to enable them to deliver quality driven projects.
This approach has proven successful in our business, two good examples of which are Senior Technical Managers Alex Judd and Matthew Parker – both demonstrated at an early stage the qualities I described earlier and came into the business into junior positions. Within the period they have been with us, we have, with their input ensured that they had received the relevant training, qualifications, experience and mentoring. This approach has paid dividends for them and the business with both stepping up to senior roles in 2017 – they are now an integral part of the senior management team.
I am not suggesting that we are unique in this approach, companies throughout the sector are doing similar things and seeing similar results, and that is why I am optimistic and enthusiastic about not only the future of the company but also that of the industry.
Finally, the last thoughts with regards to BREXIT, we now know it is happening. To my mind, as a result, the uncertainty that existed is slowly dissipating, and confidence and surety in the sector are returning. For myself and those within the business, we will embrace the challenges that not only BREXIT undoubtedly will present but also those the sector generally will offer and do what we always do, find a solution and deliver it!