Thursday, November 6, 2014

How Do We Attract Young People into Construction?

I read this article the other day and even though it is written for the British modular construction industry, I found what he is proposing quite interesting and can just as easily apply to the US modular industry. This is just another way that modular housing can begin taking the lead in new home construction.

How do we attract young people into construction?

Intelligent Offsite-International Bathroom Pod and Modular building Experts
Paul Bonaccorsi

The average age of a Construction worker is a worrying statistic for many governments and Main contractors. Not just in the UK, but all over the world. We have a Global skills shortage on a massive scale. In London, New York, Toronto and Western Australia the average age of a Bricklayer/Stonemason is 59. In the same cities the average age of a plumber is 52.

Young adults don’t want to work on a construction site, and rightly so. Why should they. It’s the worst place to construct a building. Today, young people have a far wider choice of their workplace, and working in a testing environment like a construction site probably is not one of them. Construction has an age old problem. They train people up in boom times and lay them off in a downturn. They have no job certainty or security. The guys and gals that left the construction industry in the 2008 downturn ended up working elsewhere and now wild horses would not drive them back into the industry.

So how do we attract young people into construction?

When the Motor Car first came on to the scene, the skills landscape changed dramatically. New skills had to emerge to cope with what came with the development of the Motor Car, different engineering, upholstery, electrical and other skills never seen before. Other Skills emerged not just connected with the Motor car itself, but also in building roads, refuelling stations, and so on.

So ask yourself this question!.

How many Motor engineers or mechanics work in a car plant?

The answer is probably none because all the work involved in those elements is now either an automated process or handled by people who have a different skill entirely. How much of the Car is actually manufactured in the plant. Very little, as much of it is manufactured elsewhere and brought in as a component.

So why do we continue to rely on 100 year old skills to construct our buildings?

As the Skills available today diminish we have to look at a new way of doing things. If we don’t have bricklayers and stonemasons any more we have to look at alternative cladding systems. In the same way if we have a lack of Carpenters and Joiners, plumbers, electricians and so on, we have to look at alternative ways of doing this as well.

But, we don’t have to radically change much to find the answer, because it’s already out there, its Offsite manufacturing. All we are doing is shifting the construction site to a factory.

Now we have a game changer, a different way of looking at things, a different way of DOING things. The trades needed in the factory require a different skill set, and as we have better systems available to us, such as Modular wiring for example, easy install plumbing, durable cladding systems. by manufacturing in a specialist factory these employees become technicians not tradespeople.

We can have bathrooms completely finished in the factory and either dropped into the Offsite building, or taken to the traditional construction site, as a completely finished entity. To finish this bathroom does not need skilled labour either. With good planning this can be a simple operation, and this market is worth around $2b per annum, but still only accounts for about 3 or 4 % on new build bathrooms a year.

So by creating a work environment that is safe, warm, with good facilities and has a roof over it, this makes it far more appealing for Young adults to work in a better environment.

For this to work though the Offsite manufacturing industry, has to have more support of not just contractors, but clients and end users. Any product manufactured in a factory regardless of what it is will always be of better quality than one manufactured in situ, so it’s in the client’s best interests to promote it to their team on any project.

Governments have to stop throwing money at schemes to encourage more apprentices. 
As the saying goes “you can lead a Horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. We can’t force young people to do something they don’t want to do.

But we can encourage them to take up new skills, based on a factory environment. Offsite manufacturing in Construction is the future, not just for Young people, but for the generations to come.

So governments have to consider spending the money they are targeting at encouraging young people into construction, into helping Offsite manufacturers expand their facilities, make them more modern, efficient and giving them more backing and encouragement. If the Government considered giving Tax breaks to those using Offsite manufacturing this would go a long way to kick start this initiative.

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