Is the Experience of Older Construction Workers Being Wasted?

Is the Experience of Older Construction Workers Being Wasted?

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) recently released a report titled: “Exploring the impact of the ageing population on the workforce and built environment.” Their research suggests that many companies are overlooking the experience of older construction workers who could pass down their skills and knowledge to younger workers.

The skills shortage problem within the construction industry is further exacerbated by a lack of training for new recruits. Deputy Chief Executive of the CIOB Bridget Bartlett commented: “our own research tells us that skills shortages in the construction industry are made worse when those entering the industry are not suitably qualified...we should try to tap into the skills and knowledge of older workers to ensure these skills are passed on to the next generation.”

Only 63% of firms surveyed claimed that mentoring of younger workers by experienced colleagues was commonplace within their business and respondents pointed out the difficulties in obtaining high-calibre experienced staff suitable for participating in these schemes.

In conclusion, the report stated that “construction needs to see far greater investment and recognition of ageing workers.” With almost 20% of the construction workforce set to retire in the next five to ten years, action is needed now.

Mentoring younger construction workers as well as new recruits will help ensure that some of the skills and knowledge acquired by this generation of workers will be put to good use. Mentoring and apprenticeship schemes should be commonplace in all construction practices to ensure that the 224,000 vacancies needed by 2019 will be filled.

The CIOB points out that employers have a real opportunity to address the skills shortage problems they face by reaching out to older workers. They also point out that both on and off-site skills are required with the report stating that “construction isn’t all hard hats and hi-vis. We need technical skills as much as manual skills.”

Director of Logic PM, Nick Baster, has been conscious of this issue and sought to blend youth with experience in building his team. We actively participate in the Kent apprenticeship scheme and focus on the practical approach of delivering successful projects with the knowledge that comes from experience and the enthusiasm that comes with youth. All members of the team, whether young or old, have been critical to our success and should be valued equally.