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The skills gap in the construction industry is now a well-recognised issue and frequently makes headlines. Simon Rees, central services manager at SGB, considers the challenge of delivering a skilled workforce.

Some expert commentators have recently noted that the skills development and training is now as bad as it has ever been and it is expected to get worse in the future, as the recruitment of new talent fails to keep up with the rate at which the industry loses skilled labour. This is obviously a major concern, when you consider that the lack of suitably skilled labour can cause delays on projects, and also put extra pressure on businesses which are already facing increasing costs from other areas by driving up wages for those skilled workers that are available.

A shortage of skilled labour is certainly a consideration in the scaffolding industry. One of the reasons for its existence is the fact that in the past, training has not received as much emphasis as it should have – something which resulted in the scaffolding trade often being considered as a less attractive career option than other blue-collar alternatives.

Today however, that perception has changed, as properly trained workers who can go on to develop the highest levels of skill are required in the industry. This places a strong onus on the providers of scaffolding services to offer properly accredited, high-quality training courses which provide real value and help attract the right calibre of entrant into the industry.

Any good scaffolding provider should be able to offer a range of training courses which cover the whole spectrum of the industry, from the correct use of mobile towers and scaffolding inspection right through to safety on Mastclimbers™ and working at height competency. The training on offer should also be designed to help those people understand the many different aspects of their role, including the ways in which the latest legal and regulatory guidelines that apply to the industry will impact their day-to-day working life.

It’s also important for the trainees to be confident that their courses are being delivered by properly certified and experienced trainers. Neither should that training be confined to the classroom either. Practical tuition and guidance are vital requirements, and the scaffolding provider should be able to deliver this aspect either at their own training facility, or where required, on-site.

So, the call is out for the providers of scaffolding and access services to respond to the challenge which exists, and provider carefully-structured and reliable training services which will help address the skills gap that currently faces the industry. If they can do this, we will begin to create a workforce that is not only more efficient, but also safer – and achieving that aim is something which is in everybody’s interest.

Simon Rees
Central Services Manager, SGB

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