What is the result of skill shortages in the Building Services industry?

Building, Construction & Infrastructure


There is no doubt whatsoever that the Building Services industry has been rapidly expanding over the years and both Consultancies and Contractors alike are screaming out for good Building Services Professionals.

So much so in fact, that there is a skills shortage across the entire UK industry, driving up their wages according to a report commissioned last year by the REC (Not such a bad thing I hear you say).

Workers emboldened by the skills shortage are playing harder to get, forcing employers to offer perks such as quarterly bonuses, flexible working as well as the ‘golden hello’ to new recruits. With companies complaining that they are struggling to find good candidates, potential employees with the right qualifications and experience can afford to pick and choose.

But… is there really a Skills shortage in Building Services? Or is it a Skills Gap?

Let’s look at the numbers, in 2012, Engineering UK produced a report that stated that between 2010 and 2015, UK engineering companies would require 2.74m people. The report went on to state that 87,000 of those will require degree qualified candidates. As of 2012, the UK was producing only 46,000 engineering graduates per year.

According to a report released last year over 500 trained building-services professionals were due to retire this year with only 65 new recruits to take their place. This means we are also losing a lot of management- level experience.

Let’s face it, when we are looking at major companies within the building services industry, they all tend to offer similar projects, similar cultures and a similar working environment. Even when you do decide to ‘jump ship’ you’ll probably end up working side by side with your former employer.

So what’s the encouragement to move?

  • Money?
  • Car Allowance?
  • Flexible working hours?
  • Pension scheme?

Actually… from my own experience it’s none of those things. I’ve been encouraging candidates within the Building Services industry to open up about what motivates them and the most common response is work life balance and career progression.

I have candidates who have been progressed into a role that doesn’t exist in an attempt to improve staff retention. In order for employees to earn their new salary increase, they are expected to work longer hours with increasing work loads, creating an unfavourable work life balance.

 What is the solution?

I can’t sit here from my swivel chair and pretend I have all the answers but I’ll chip in my pennies worth anyway.

“Does this person exist?” – come on now Mr Client, I’m good at my job but do you really think I’m going to find a ‘Chartered, Degree Qualified Unicorn who speaks 5 languages with 10 years experience in the Shetlands for £45k + a car allowance’? Unlikely.

Something has got to give to pave the way to a more strategic approach to Talent Acquisition.

Succession planning: Use your resources! Dave has 25 years experience in producing detailed design for the Pharmaceutical industry, use him! Having one person with the skill set to train your up and coming employees and putting a succession plan in place is one of the most effective tools to combat the current skills shortage.

Transferable skills: Use us, that is what we are here for. Scantec CAN advise you on transferable skills, we work with our clients day in and day out to find them the best culture fit for their company. Something that we encourage in Scantec is finding the right mind set… If you can find someone with the right mind set and the drivers to succeed surely that’s a better fit than someone looking for an extra £5k and a new title.

Upskill existing or new workers: Rather than take a dogmatic approach to matching a job specification, it is worth taking candidates with excellent potential who have experience in some but not all key areas required and then investing time to upskill these candidates which in turn will result in improved morale, loyalty and motivation from the work force.

Spread Knowledge: I don’t think career fairs hit the right people at the right age, having a presence at University level is great but it’s too late, most people have already chosen what career path they want to take. Get involved in high school, encourage females into engineering (it’s not just about the tools)… Not enough young people are given the facts about what subjects they need to take to get in the right job field.

If you’re interested in this subject matter or discussing your next career steps please get in touch!