The importance of investing in the future workforce

Home Insights Driving performance is reliant on people

With over 10,000 new construction workers needed in Yorkshire and the Humber and almost 4,000 needed in the North East by 2023*, David Wingfield, Business Unit Director for Wates Construction North East and Yorkshire, discusses the importance of investing in the future workforce.

The UKs construction sector is one of the economys biggest contributors and with output set to grow at a steady rate over the next four years, were in a very healthy position to embrace some real innovations in the industry . I am very excited about what is to come for construction over the next few years, particularly in the North East and Yorkshire, because we have an opportunity to develop and adopt new technologies and enhance our capabilities but fundamental to all of this is our investment in people.

Training is really key to me, but it needs to be sustainable and a big part of this is welcoming young people into our industry and giving them the best possible start to their careers. We recently welcomed our new cohort of trainees at Wates Construction Yorkshire and North East and it gives me so much pride to know that we are passing on skills and knowledge to the future workforce. Whats more, they bring renewed  enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to our business which is invaluable if we are going to adapt to meet the future needs of our industry.

Evolving our team is how we evolve our business

Construction is like any other industry; you need to constantly move with the times to improve what you do. To drive improvement we must continually interrogate our practices to enhance performance and efficiency. Welcoming new talent into our business makes this a very dynamic process because we can learn from each other. I have been in the industry for over 20 years, so have lots of knowledge and experience to share with those around me but too am eager to continue learning, as I believe no matter what stage of your career you are at, learning never ends. If theres a new  technology that would enhance our work, I am keen to have my eyes opened to it, so learning is very much a mutual process.

Our supply chain partners are a vital part of our team

Construction output in the UK is anticipated to grow by 1.3% annually between 2019 and 2023 and while this is good news, it also means that we need to support its growth with an employment pipeline. Our supply chain needs to grow at the same rate, without which projects may suffer with spikes in demand and a shortage of resource. But this is by no means their concern and their concern alone. Contractors must work with their supply chain partners to help bridge potential skills gaps; working in partnership means finding shared solutions to shared challenges. Without this, we put our industrys potential growth at risk.

As a family business, Wates has always been committed to engaging with young people with the ultimate aim of supporting the local communities in which we work. This has always been rewarding work for us, but the true benefit in this engagement is being able to open young peoples eyes to the diverse careers in construction and to inspire them to join our industry. This is how we safeguard our future and its something myself and my team are very passionate about.

* Construction Skills Network, Yorkshire & Humber 2019-23
* Construction Skills Network, North East 2019-23