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‘The Future’s Getting Older’ Construction workforce shows sign of ageing


Research by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has shown that construction managers over the age of 60 are the fastest growing age group in the sector.

The research which looks at the impact of what an ageing population will have on the construction industry, revealed not only the implications for building, design and structure but also the effect on the workforce.

Michael Brown CIOB Deputy Chief Executive said; “There are two trends in particular that should be of concern for the industry. Firstly the total numbers of construction managers above the age of 60 has increased and the biggest reduction in workers fell in the under 30 group. The likely impact is as clear as it is worrying. A great deal of knowledge is about to be lost and fewer professionals are in line to replace it.

“There is also an indication that a significant proportion of the industry is not setting aside provisions for their retirement. The results have shown that a number of employees cannot afford to retire because of inadequate pension plans and no alternative financial investments to support them. Clearly more needs to be done to encourage construction professionals to invest in their futures.”

The results show that 76% of all respondents (over 2,000 construction professionals took part) are aware of the challenges facing the construction industry as a result of the ageing population. Further analysis clearly shows that the older the respondent, the more aware he or she becomes of the challenges that would arise. Construction professionals were asked to add further comment and specify the challenges they feel are a particular issue for the industry. The majority of respondents cite the following three challenges:

· The ageing construction workforce
· The economic impact of this demographic change
· The state of the existing building stock

The comments show that the ageing construction workforce is the primary concern. Several responses highlight a fear of many workers entering retirement within a short space of time and the resulting significant loss of skills in the industry. This would also mean that the industry is losing a valuable teaching resource, as older workers often use their expertise and experience to help develop new entrants. This issue is closely related to the industry’s dilemma of skills shortages and its problems in recruiting enough new employees.

While the industry’s older members are crucial assets, some respondents suggest that it’s hard to drive innovation through the industry without fresh minds available. These respondents believe that developing new ideas and innovative ways of working will help to strengthen the industry’s future.

One way to tackle this challenge is to extend the retirement age. Overall, only 34% think this should be done, although the percentage does rise consistently with age; 44% of respondents over 60 feel that the retirement age should be extended. 59% of respondents are already aware of employees staying on past the official retirement age. The most common explanations for this include employees enjoying their jobs, feeling they would be bored by retirement, financial reasons, or because they were asked to stay on due to a lack of a replacement.

Email: stownsend@ciob.org.uk


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