Edgeley Construction

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How Can Construction Companies Attract and Retain the Skills They Need?

News | 19.10.21 |

Amongst all the challenges facing the property and construction sector at the moment, one stands out as an abiding and serious headache for both construction companies and clients, and that’s finding the right people with the right mix of skills to get the job done.

This issue is nothing new: the skills gap, difficulties in attracting young people into the sector and the need to encourage greater diversity have been discussed throughout the industry and at all levels for years. The difference now is that there is a perfect storm of contributing factors that has exacerbated the problem.

So what’s the answer? There certainly isn’t a quick fix; changing perceptions and training skilled people takes time. In fact, it will be companies, like Edgeley Construction, that have worked hard over a number of years to build a positive, nurturing and inclusive business culture, that will be a step ahead when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in a competitive skills market.

The Perfect Storm

The reason so many have been discussing skills issues in the construction sector for so long boils down to a lack of investment. Recessions in the 80s and 90s meant that construction companies stopped investing in training their own talent and relied instead on recruiting from the ample pool of skills available. That lack of investment resulted in a skills gap – a generation where too few tradespeople were trained through apprenticeships.

The tide is turning, and more companies are realising the value of apprenticeships and in-house training – something Edgeley Construction has always put at the heart of our business. Many tier one contractors are setting targets for the number of apprentices and total training hours worked on a job and are challenging their supply chain partners to evidence their training commitment in the PQQ selection process. But the industry is playing catch up. Along with the reluctance to invest in training, there has been a lack of investment in addressing perceptions of construction, so there is a dearth of understanding about the diversity of roles available and the rewarding careers that construction can offer.

Meanwhile, many of the skilled and knowledgeable professionals who began their careers as apprentices before the skills gap years, are retiring, putting even more pressure on recruitment and retention.

Against this backdrop, the sector also has the impacts of Brexit and the pandemic to cope with. With many of the skilled European tradespeople the industry has relied on over the past 20 years leaving the UK, and sites continuing to operate despite the disruption of Covid infections and isolations, attracting the right people and keeping them has never been more of a priority.

How is Edgeley Construction Keeping the Right Team in Place?

As a family business, Edgeley Construction has always benefitted from a clear and deliverable succession plan. The second generation of the Brett family is now working alongside the original founders to take the business forward to a new era, while leveraging the traditional skills, values and service proposition that have provided such a strong foundation for growth.

The family values at the heart of how we operate mean that we see the team as an extended family, treating everyone with respect and working hard to communicate that we value the team’s input and their contribution to both individual projects and the company’s success.

We reward our team well, but we firmly believe that recruitment and retention are about much more than offering the right salary. Our goal is to create a work environment where people feel valued and are proud to be part of something bigger. We encourage collaboration and communication across the team, enabling more experienced operatives to mentor those coming through the ranks, and delivering training with a combination of formal courses and certification, informal on-the-job learning, and toolbox talks.

Putting quality at the heart of everything we do also helps us to attract and retain skilled and talented people. We are not just constructing and refurbishing buildings, but places where people will live, work and learn for generations to come. Ensuring that every member of our team takes pride in doing a good job and being part of an ethical, trustworthy business is a key building block of their loyalty and motivation, which benefits both the company and our clients.

The Value of Company Culture

With our in-house team of site operatives, our long-standing commitment to training, and expertise within the company that’s been passed down from one generation to the next, Edgeley Construction is in a very strong position to weather the storm on skills. But much of that strong position is founded on our culture and values, something much more difficult to measure or replicate.