Does the construction sector need to rethink its recruitment and retention strategies?

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19 May, 2022

Abigail Lynch

Traditionally the construction sector has been dominated by self-employed contractors. The latest data released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) however has shown that in the fourth quarter of last year the number of self-employed workers operating in the construction sector has fallen by over 100,000 from the first quarter of 2020 and almost 200,000 since the first quarter of 2019. As a result, the number of self-employed workers within the industry has hit its lowest level for 18 years.

It is suspected that COVID-19 is one of the main factors behind this as well as the changes brought about by the IR35 tax reforms in April 2021, which led to a number of self-employed contractors either being taken on as employees in organisations (resulting in less favourable tax benefits) or leaving contracting altogether.

There are also concerns however that there is a general skills shortage within the industry. Traditionally the sector has relied heavily on EU workers to address the construction skills shortage within the UK. The availability of overseas workers to fill such gaps in the market however has become increasingly constrained over recent months. There also appears to be an equality imbalance with women currently only making up 14% of the workforce and ethnic minorities a minor 6%. All of which is causing businesses within the sector to review their approach to recruitment

Many businesses operating within the construction sector are being forced to rethink how they attract and retain talent, particularly as competition for skilled workers increases. The industry is facing one of its toughest recruitment challenges and businesses need to be thinking about how they recruit and retain talent. Recruitment and retention can be a taxing process however the benefit of investing time into your recruitment of staff is that by hiring the right people you are only going to provide a better and more efficient service which in theory should result in a more successful businesses. Similarly showing staff that their retention is a priority will result in a happy work force and therefore long-term staff retention.

Research carried out has shown that the construction industry could be more successful if it aligned its recruitment approach to values. These include job stability and security, variety of work, the opportunity to have a positive impact as well as the potential to become an expert.

Given the equality imbalance referenced above, it would also be advisable for businesses to seek more diverse workforces. A lack of diversity means whole sections of the potential workforce are missing, not to mention it can increase the likelihood of discrimination issues arising.

So as not to fall behind to other key skill sectors and miss out on attracting workers, employers within the construction sector ought to look at what other sectors currently offer and seek to match similar levels of flexibility and working conditions, to the extent that this is possible. To attract people to work in the industry, you need to look at what workers want and consider how and to what extent this can be accommodated within the sector.

If you need any advice or assistance with your recruitment strategies or the issues you need to think about from a legal perspective, please do not hesitate to contact Abigail Lynch - Abigail Lynch

For more information contact Abigail Lynch in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 0330 207 4469. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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