How can construction bridge the gaps in 2024?

Construction gaps Ellis Fox Blog

As we start a new year it’s an opportunity to consider how to do things differently. And we need to, because some of the gaps that remain are a stumbling block for construction as an industry. It seems that whatever progress is made, it’s often one step forward and two steps back.

Case in point is the recent news headline highlighting that the gender pay gap continues to widen in construction and particularly in the infrastructure sector. It’s concerning, especially as it’s a topic that has been talked about extensively.

Main contractors are making the effort to attract more females into the industry, but progress is slow. Is it any wonder when the salaries on offer are consistently lower than what’s being offered to male candidates? It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what’s important – valuing employees, regardless of gender for the skills and expertise that they bring to the company.

One of the ways that this can shift is by considering what external expertise could benefit construction. Knowledge on regeneration, environmental management, recycling, and carbon capture are becoming increasingly important. There are a number of highly qualified women operating in these fields that can make a significant impact in changing how construction operates and helping it as an industry to become more sustainable.

Another major gap that remains is a general skills gap on all levels of the construction industry. Towards the end of last year government announced relaxation of some immigration laws to allow artisans and in particular construction workers to legally work in the UK. For many this is a token effort that doesn’t come close to narrowing the gap.

It’s generally acknowledged that the main issue is that construction isn’t an industry that easily attracts talent. It’s not seen as being progressive, high tech or exciting despite innovations being made on high profile projects. School leavers would rather study IT, law, digital marketing or environmental science.

Construction needs to change its profile and perception if it is to hope to attract the talent it needs. And it needs to consider what employees want. Flexible working, 4-day work weeks – a decade ago these weren’t even a consideration, now they’re becoming dealbreakers in getting candidates to accept an offer. 2024 can be a good year for construction, if companies start to implement real change and become more progressive and proactive to attract top employees.