This week Building unveils its first ever Graduate Advisory Board to inform the industry of the pertinent issues that are facing young people working across the sector.
Will your company have the right image to attract the likes of our cover star Carolina Lameiras? She’s a 25-year-old design engineer at Adams Kara Taylor, and attributes the industry’s mounting skills problems to its dreary “stereotypical image”.
Despite people such as Carolina entering the industry, the skills shortage looks set to worsen. Predictions suggest that the industry’s annual turnover growth is likely to more than double from 1.5% to 3.5% after the onset of the London Olympics. And that’s without assessing the impact of the dozens of speculative schemes that will emerge as developers follow the gold rush, or allowing for the dozens of schools, hospitals and houses still waiting to be built. Worryingly, it is as yet unknown how bad the skills shortfall is, with official figures not due until the end of October, when the Olympic plans are to be finalised.
In the meantime, the fight to attract, retain and invest in good young people is on. Labour agencies are cranking up wage rates, and companies are beginning to pay top dollar for good people in a depleted marketplace. As a result, staff turnover figures among big firms are on the increase, and the competition to attract the cream of the crop from the sector’s top universities has never been fiercer. Does your firm provide flexible working, sabbaticals, company secondments or advanced management training? Are you ready to fulfil the ambitions of the new graduate breed? If not, there is a risk of losing them to the competition or, worse still, to another industry altogether. For an insight, consider the views of our new graduate board. As EC Harris’ project manager, Vicky Burley declares: “I want to be an associate by the time I’m 30, a partner by between 35 and 40, and to get as much experience as possible.” And that’s just for starters. You’ve been warned.
A certain style …
Jasper Conran is following in his father’s footsteps. Sir Terence’s company Conran and Partners has for the past two years worked with developer City Lofts. Now Conran fils is looking to exert a similar influence over architecture, hinting in our interview that “building design may be on the horizon". It is a move that’s well worth making. As Wayne Hemingway has demonstrated with Wimpey, fashion designers can contribute a lot more to housing than making sure the curtains don’t clash with the carpet in the show home. Would any housebuilder have come up with Hemingway’s idea of putting table-tennis tables and barbecues in the communal gardens? It is unlikely. Fashion designers can bring bold, brave new ideas to housing design. Not all of them may work, but one or two of them might just help the housebuilding industry tackle the challenges posed by the market and the government’s sustainable communities agenda.
Tom Broughton, deputy editor