Don't ignore traditional skills
Every morning I drive into Manchester and I’m struck by the row of cranes that dominate the skyline. It's a similar scene in Liverpool and London and is a good indicator of the health of the economy.
However, have you ever thought of all the construction workers, bricklayers, carpenters, skilled plumbers, electricians and plasterers that are needed to fuel the wave of developments that are popping up?
Neither had I so who’s going to build the new homes and infrastructure projects that the politicians keep talking about?
There’s a nationwide shortage of these professionals and it’s the subject of our Construction Skills Summit in Liverpool City Region on November 15th, which we’re running in conjunction with our friends at Progress to Excellence Group.
We shouldn't actually be that surprised because society has paid lip service to training people into traditional roles for a generation.
Kids want to YouTubers; footballers; tech entrepreneurs; or pop singers but how many young people want to be HGV drivers; bricklayers; or engineers?
We read a lot about driverless cars but fewer 17-year-olds are learning to drive now than ever before so where are the HGV drivers of the future going to come from? It’s a ticking time bomb.
Brexit is unlikely to help as European drivers find it more difficult and less attractive to work in the UK.
I visited a flourishing manufacturing business in East Lancashire recently and they’re really struggling to attract engineers. The average age of their engineers is in their mid 50s and at some point these experienced workers are going to retire. What happens then?
More needs to be done to make these roles more attractive but we also need to take a more holistic approach. Given the shortage of HGV drivers we need to become less reliant on long-haul haulage by shipping goods closer to their end destination.
This is one of the issues that Peel Ports has sought to address with investment in the Liverpool2 Container Terminal. Shorter road journeys means drivers are deployed more efficiently and road congestion and carbon emissions are reduced in the process.
Other businesses need to take a leaf out of Peel Ports’ book before it’s too late.