Live on BBC Business News today
Annie Summun commenting on the skills shortage in the construction industry.
As a member of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and on their Training Group, as well as being a Director of Kisiel Group, Annie was well placed to answer questions about the effects of Brexit on the construction industry.
The FMB had released earlier in the day, to coincide with exactly one year until Brexit, key findings from their research amongst small and medium sized (SME) construction firms. Interestingly “94% of firms describe the quality of EU workers they employ as ‘good’ and ‘very good’.” Further details of the findings can be found at the FMB Newsroom.
When asked if the survey was specifically about small and medium builders, Annie responded, ‘Yes and we are a small business and we have mainly Polish workers on our construction sites and they have been quite impacted by the start of Brexit. So when we had the referendum vote, many of them felt that they were not really welcome here anymore and so I it think it is really important that we look to encourage them to stay because we do have a skills shortage in this country.‘
This lead to the question as to whether the answer was to focus instead on training up the new generation of apprentices here in the UK.
Annie replied, ‘I think it is important to do both. To train people up takes time and we need to encourage young people to take up apprenticeships in the construction industry as it is great industry to be in. But while we are training them up we also need to have the workers from the EU at the moment, if we are going to meet government targets for housing.‘
When questioned about trying to recruit from beyond the EU and get the best in the world to come to the UK, Annie commented ‘That is certainly a possibility. I think that there is no one single solution to this problem. But I do think it is important we should encourage youngsters in the UK, through the schools, through their parents, and show them that it is good career in construction. They get paid while they are being trained, they don’t incur student debts and then when they come out from their training, they are guaranteed a job because we have a shortage in the industry.‘
Kisiel Group believes we need to look at all opportunities that help to alleviate the skills crisis we currently have in the construction industry.