With one third of senior construction managers to reach retirement age in near future the industry needs to face up to the challenge of upskilling new generation

Peter Jacobs

In my September blog I discussed how I saw CIOB moving into a modern headquarters building and relaunching our new website as an opportunity to make a step change as we modernise our organisation to be “at the heart of any career in the built environment”.

I asked the question if we had the same opportunity to make a similar step change across our industry to deliver the Government Construction Strategy and undertook to explore the opportunities, challenges and blockers in my blogs.

This month I will discuss one of the focus topics for my year as president. Construction management skills and the accreditation of those skills is central to the purpose of CIOB.

Any shortage or deficiency in the correct skill set at any level in our industry is a serious blocker to the ability to deliver.

We are about to lose an immense amount of experience and leadership that can guide and support construction managers

It has been estimated that one third of senior construction managers will reach retirement age in the next five years. The construction industry has changed since they started on site, but all of those that I have spoken to in recent months agree that the rate of change now is faster than at any time during our careers.

Everybody at every level has more to do!

Most if it is very important and beneficial, but still time consuming. In many cases my friends and colleagues tell me that advances in technology and innovations such as BIM and industry focused social media on mobile platforms increases their workload rather than increasing their efficiency.

So not only are we about to lose an immense amount of experience and leadership that can guide and support construction managers, but the skills that they need are also multiplying and constantly evolving.

As the market starts to recover we are seeing a migration of talent towards major projects both in UK and overseas. Large contractors are recruiting from SMEs thus leaving the need to train staff often with SMEs without the scale for in-house training schemes.

So it is urgent that we focus on upskilling an increased number of our people at the time when the impact of reduced training budgets forced upon most organisations by the downturn is having its maximum effect.

To exacerbate the situation universities and colleges are reporting a slump in applications for construction management courses.

Hence the CIOB is working hard with industry and academia to ensure that our qualifications are flexible, relevant and internationally recognised .

We have created 25 new training partnerships with private companies and are engaging with companies at board level to reinforce the agenda and work together to solve the problem with innovative new training and qualification solutions.

All is not lost!

The Construction Manager of the Year awards later this month will celebrate a fantastic range of projects successfully delivered by talented skilled construction managers. There is a consensus that there is a serious problem and many major contractors have responded to the demand rapidly and energetically.

If we can all pull together perhaps this is the opportunity for that step change to a more efficient industry.

Peter Jacobs is managing director of Morgan Sindall in London and president of the CIOB