Construction cannot afford to lose its wealth of skills and experience

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The government’s Construction Talent Retention Scheme is key to keeping much-needed talent within the sector, explains Caroline Gumble

For a few years now the CIOB has been raising awareness of an impending skills shortage in our industry. We’ve raised it with parliamentarians, we’ve supported industry initiatives to attract new talent, we’ve even tried to introduce the benefits of a career in the built environment to children via our Minecraft game.

One of the consequences of the pandemic is that, with project slow-downs and cancellations and many companies being forced to make cuts, we face the prospect of losing skills, experience and expertise we already have in our industry at a time when we can least afford it.

Therefore, news of the Construction Talent Retention Scheme is very welcome.

Launched by the Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi, at the end of July, the Construction Talent Retention Scheme (TRS) is a potentially important partnership between the industry and government to try and keep talent in our sector. At the online launch, he said: “This scheme will help to retain vital knowledge within the construction industry, enabling businesses to rapidly recruit talented individuals and reduce skills shortages at this pivotal time in the nation’s economic recovery.”

The scheme is being run by the Construction Leadership Council which, as many of you will know, is made up of trade and business associations from across the sector, including the CIOB.

The TRS is not just an online portal but is also intended to support the redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy and enable temporary employee loans between businesses. It also offers businesses a platform to find the skills they need, for free, and now allows individuals to list their skills and experience and, hopefully, find the right role and stay in our sector.

At the time of writing, hundreds of companies have expressed an interest in using the scheme and there are over 350 vacancies listed, all of them direct from employers in our industry.

The TRS not-for-profit programme has funding secured until the end of April 2021. It’s my hope that the bounce-back in construction will be as strong as some are predicting and that come April next year we will be back to attracting new talent into sector – which we do still need – and not still focused on an exodus of expertise.

Employers and individuals looking for a new role can go to: www.trs-system.co.uk/construction

Caroline Gumble is chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)

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