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Building and construction skills shortage – Attracting and retaining professionals isn’t always about $$$.

With the mining boom all but a distant memory, we are now witnessing the next big thing! A huge upturn in the building and construction sector is upon us, with employers and businesses in this arena now desperately seeking qualified and skilled professionals who are critical to ensure their business continuity and growth.

As the year progresses, the need for suitably qualified candidates is increasing. We are seeing a major increase in the number of companies that are looking for building and construction professionals with many now in a situation where their businesses are being held back because they can’t find the right skillset. These skills are often essential to moving a project forward and as such, become business critical. In what is now an apparent ‘Skills Shortage’ within the industry as a whole, it leaves us with an issue that we all need to overcome. Where and how are we going to find the valuable skills that we need in order to keep our businesses moving?

Experienced engineers and project professionals with a background in building and construction are very few and far between with most companies fighting over the few candidates that are actively looking, and… they are prepared to pay big $$$’s in order to beat their competition to the prize. However, there are many things that companies can do to ensure that they retain their current staff and are also seen to be better choice of employer than their competition and surprisingly, this doesn’t always equate to $$$. Employers seeking these hard to find skills need to start by asking themselves – What do I need to do or change within my business to attract the professionals that will keep my business moving?

Thinking outside the box and strategising about retention and attraction methods is crucial for any Management team. Businesses and employers who offer work life balance and flexibility are well-known in the market. In fact, when we are retained to headhunt skills, the most common objection to a role we are offering is when the business has a reputation for overworking staff or not providing flexible working arrangements. Once a business gains this reputation, it is hard to overcome given that many businesses focus on this as part of their core strategy and culture so that they are seen to be an ‘employer of choice’.

Training and career development is now more than ever a reason that candidates will choose one employer over another. This is crucial with technology being updated as frequently as it is. Given that career progression is one of the main reasons people look to leave their current position, employers need to offer a way that their staff can not only keep their skills current but must ensure they also have a defined, clear, concise and well communicated strategy for staff progression.

Of course, some candidates are all about the money… and well, given the cost of living, you can’t blame them! Businesses need to be aware that the employment market is all about supply and demand. When skills become short, candidates see their value in the market increasing. It is imperative that hiring managers consider what the consequences will be if they miss a candidate for $10,000 or $20,000. Management need to ask themselves the following:

  • How much will it cost the business in lost productivity not having the headcount filled?
  • If the skills shortage continues, what will candidates be worth in few months’ time?
  • How will not having this position filled affect the team?

There is no hard and fast rule for dealing with these situations. It’s not the first time we have experienced an industry with a shortage of skilled professionals, but one thing is for sure, it will get worse before it gets better! Companies who are experiencing difficulty in sourcing specific skills need to ensure that they tackle it head on. Now is the time to develop a well thought out strategy to ensure that you are able to relieve staffing pressures when they occur. This will in turn ensure that you have business continuity and allow you to increase productivity and profitability over your competition.

Published 12/09/2016

James Walsh – Director
Martin Walsh Group
e: james@martinwalsh.com.au
m: +61 410 637 497
www.martinwalsh.com.au