Richard Milsom, Founder and Managing Partner, Granger Reis
If the demand for growth in the industrial and real estate sectors is to be fulfilled, we need to improve the perspective of careers within these industries.
The Covid-19 crisis continues to place a significant burden on the UK’s economy and public finances. As a key enabler of growth, governments and businesses are turning to infrastructure development to help stimulate the renewal of the economy.
The UK alone is prepared to invest £640 billion in roads, railways and housing over the next five years, while the equivalent global forecast is a staggering $50 trillion. Already faced with an immense skills shortage, delivering this ambitious programme will involve an entire rethink of the way the industry has traditionally gone about attracting talent.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to building capacity is changing the perception of what the infrastructure industry does. There are a number of stereotypes associated with careers in infrastructure that paint them as “low-skilled” or badly paid, when in reality the opposite is true.
When it comes to attracting talent, embracing issues such as diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and mental health at work has never been more important. We are increasingly seeing candidates who want to align personal motivations and values with an organisation’s true purpose and culture. Companies that do not think and act upon their diversity, wellbeing and green policies will struggle to attract the talent of the future.
Companies need to be braver. Employers should look to evaluate potential employees on competence as opposed to experience and identify people from aligned industries from which they might need skills in the future. For example, the construction industry could seek manufacturing skills to enable off-site manufacturing to be delivered to a higher standard. Furthermore, companies need to go into schools and make the future generation of talent aware of the benefits of being part of the infrastructure and industrial sectors. As we know, these sectors are not only rewarding personally and financially but they can also benefit society at large. Finally, companies must embrace technology and automation to ensure that their industries become more efficient and enable them to employ fewer people in the future.
Until organisations rethink the way they have traditionally approached attracting and retaining talent, the UK will struggle to deliver on government plans to boost the economy and build a world that is more resilient to future crises.