Lack of ‘talent’ a cause for concern

‘Talent’ is top of UK construction firms’ concerns for the year ahead according to a new survey.

Of the 235 industry professionals surveyed, nearly two-fifths (38%) believed that squeezed access to labour would be their biggest challenge in the next 12 months, according to the new Digital Foundations report from construction productivity software provider PlanGrid.

Rising wage demands are the biggest worry for a further fifth (18%) of those surveyed.

Construction firms are concerned about the impact of the limited talent pool on their output. Nearly half (46%) say that lack of resources is the factor most impacting their productivity. Engaging the employees already within the business also appears to be an ongoing challenge for some firms. More than a tenth (13%) say that staff absenteeism is a serious challenge, while over a quarter (26%) experience it sporadically.

There are suggestions that outdated working practices may be hindering talent engagement and efforts to recruit new workers. Over a third of professionals (37%) point to an inordinate focus on administrative tasks in their business. Firms have been relatively slow to adopt technology, with 22% relying entirely on paper-based drawings and 10% making minimal or no use of tech on-site.

“Employee engagement is a core part of construction firms’ productivity, but workers can easily be left frustrated by outdated processes that take up time and cause errors,” said Tracy Young, CEO of PlanGrid. “At a time when competition for talent is fierce, this antiquated approach won’t stand up. Using digital technology can not only improve the working lives and output of existing employees, but also help to attract digitally native recruits into construction. Technology is an important way to improve the productivity both of individual construction firms and the industry as a whole.”

Talent shortages may increase in the coming years, with Brexit potentially limiting access to migrant labour and the Farmer Review pointing to a 20-25% decline in the construction workforce in the next decade.