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Planning future construction skill requirements: understanding labour resource issues

Agapiou, Andrew and Price, Andrew and McCaffer, Ron (1995) Planning future construction skill requirements: understanding labour resource issues. Construction Management and Economics, 13 (2). pp. 149-161. ISSN 0144-6193

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Abstract

Construction is a labour-intensive industry, which places heavy reliance upon the skills of its workforce. These skills need updating continually as many of the trades involved in the industry become increasingly specialized. During the 1980s, there was a rapid rise in construction activity within the UK, followed by a sudden but short-lived boom accompanied by skill shortages. The construction industry is now experiencing a deeper and longer lasting recession than originally predicted, resulting in valuable employees in all sections of the industry being lost - a high proportion of whom will not return to the construction industry. The construction industry is predicted to grow in the period after the recession by an average of 3% per annum until the year 2001. With this growth the industry is expected to experience considerable skill shortages in both traditional and new skill areas. Construction is in a period of rapid cultural change accompanied by the introduction of new technologies and new ways of organizing construction activities. Powerful national and multinational clients will continue to influence the choice of these technologies through their demands for faster construction times. The construction industry will continue to face increased competition in search of eligible recruits to train accordingly. Employment within the construction industry will continue to move away from large and medium sized firms to small firms and working proprietors. In the 1980s, self-employment and the use of specialist labour-only sub-contractors increased as training levels declined. This trend will hamper the industry's ability to train people for future skill needs. This paper aims to assist interested parties in the construction industry understand and realize the importance of labour resource issues and the need for long-term planning of labour resource requirements, so allowing them to train and retrain people to address the predicted skill shortages.