This year’s guide shows the active steps construction’s top employers are taking to increase the appeal of the industry to new recruits

Sarah Richardson

The need for the construction sector to recruit more skilled workers is an issue that has been placed under an ever-intensifying spotlight in recent months.

Consultant Mark Farmer’s recently published hard-hitting review of the industry’s labour market, Modernise or Die, forecast that 700,000 new workers will be needed within five years to replace those due to retire, exacerbating existing shortages. Meanwhile, the UK’s vote for Brexit, likely to lead to tightened rules over labour movement, has thrown doubt over how much the industry can continue to rely on foreign workers to plug skills gaps.

Against this backdrop, it is clear that the construction sector needs to both increase its appeal to potential workers, and widen the pool of talent from which it has traditionally recruited. The 50 firms in this year’s Building Good Employer Guide are leading the way in both of these respects.

One of the most striking trends to emerge from this year’s guide is the increasing effort employers are making to appeal to a more diverse group of workers

One of the most striking trends to emerge from this year’s guide is the increasing effort employers are making to appeal to a more diverse group of workers. The number of our top employers offering enhanced maternity benefits - often a key factor in recruiting and retaining younger female staff - has leapt by nearly a third over the past year. This is particularly encouraging given the significant proportion of SME firms included in the guide, which are likely to face more of a challenge in resourcing such measures. And although the industry remains male-dominated, there are clear signs that the balance is starting to shift - in two of our top five employers, Architype and JTP, women make up at least half of staff.

Meanwhile, the guide provides clear evidence that construction’s top employers are taking active steps to address the industry’s traditional culture of long hours and often inflexible working; in a move that stands to dramatically increase the appeal of the sector to recruits of all backgrounds.

Holiday terms have become more generous over the past year, representing a laudable effort to improve work-life balance despite pressure on companies to deliver with often tight resource. A growing number of companies are also introducing a more flexible approach to time off, with measures such as turning overtime worked into paid leave, and the option to take a set number of holiday days at short notice.

Trends such as these are a powerful illustration that, among the industry’s top employers, the wellbeing of staff is being seen as integral to business success. So the companies in this year’s guide deserve to be heartily congratulated for the efforts they are making to set a new standard for working conditions in the industry.

It is one which, with competition for staff only set to increase, other companies will surely seek to emulate, in order to attract and keep the talent that will shape the future of both their businesses, and the sector as a whole.

Sarah Richardson, editor