What happens when there’s a skilled labour shortage?

One of the causes of a skilled labour shortage can be not enough employers training young people at the right time in the industry’s lifecycle.

Given the skilled labour shortage in the construction industry at present and in the near future, competition for skilled workers will increase. This brings its own set of behaviours such as higher wage demands, higher staff turnover and companies having to make do with less-skilled staff, impacting on both the amount and quality of work produced.

What is the answer? More new apprentices? That’s definitely a good place to start, but there is also the need to match the training of apprentices to the available skilled tradespeople already in the industry. For example, there are currently twice as many apprentices in the painting industry as there were two years ago. However, this industry is also facing an ageing population within its skilled tradespeople. Once these people are lost to the industry, their knowledge and experience goes with them.

Trade businesses operate under a variety of business models from sole trader contractor through to large employers of staff. Regardless of which model your business uses, it is good to take a step back and reflect on your business and set your goals for the future. Developing a five year business plan can help you to achieve those goals. An important factor in this plan needs to be human resources.

To help avoid a skilled labour shortage what questions should business owners be asking themselves right now?

  • Where will your business get new staff from?
  • Will you train them yourself or perhaps attract staff trained by other businesses? What risks does this present your business with?
  • Does your business model rely heavily on sub-contractors? Where will you get your next sub-contractors from if the current ones become unavailable?
  • If you have an ageing staff or sub-contractor profile, what plans have you made for replacing them in the future without affecting productivity?
  • What about a succession plan for you as the business owner if you wish to move on? Will that succession happen from within your business or will you have to rely on a third party being around to purchase the business when you wish to exit?

Planning for growth is a vital step in managing our industry through the current high demand. Keeping skilled tradespeople within our industries is essential so that new apprentices entering get the full benefit of those experienced tradies.

BCITO continues to work closely with industries to provide support to meet training needs into the future and we are here to keep you informed to help you plan ahead for what might be next to come.

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