Learn how to overcome labour shortages

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Within the trades industry, recruitment is an ongoing issue. There are too many companies and too much work for a small labour pool.

This shortage of labour has in turn increased wage rates and resulted in an extra cost being passed on to the consumer.

When academic bodies took away multi-trade apprenticeship schemes and focused more on siloed skills, a huge gap was left, meaning that multi-trade talent is far and few between.

Rather than providing a good overview of all the trades – plumbing, tiling, joinery – aspiring tradespeople can only follow one of these routes at any given time.

Brexit and Covid-19 have only heightened this issue, making the gap far bigger than what it already was.

Rebecca Silvers, head of marketing at Passmore Group, advises companies to change their recruitment strategy and training processes in order to combat the issue.

Like many other companies, in the past Passmore Group used a very ad-hoc approach to recruitment, seeking only to employ when they really needed to.

She said: “We needed a 12-month strategy, especially given that we had a lot more work – pent up work – across the business post-lockdown.

“It really did heighten the issue we were facing and the need to address it. We brought recruitment in-house and made it a marketing-led initiative.

“It became something that wasn’t turned on and off. It would be something that would be a long-term, always-on, strategy that would run throughout the business.

“We’re always recruiting, but we have found that there isn’t the same level of urgency that there was before we implemented this’.

We asked Rebecca Silvers what businesses could learn from their approach, she said: “That it has to be a long-term strategy. It needs to be carefully planned out and considered and not something that is turned on and off.

“It has to be consistent. It needs to run throughout the business and be embedded. You have to be good at being able to attract candidates and beyond that, train, onboard and meet their wider well-being needs.

“The process they go through has to be solid, something that can be analysed and improved. For some, this will be their first interaction with your business and when attracting people, it is as competitive as it is in this industry, that first impression means a lot.

“The people that work within a business are no different to customers. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to retain good people than be continuously trying to find new ones.”

Passmore Group have seen staff turnover statistics drop since adopting the new initiative.

The company were no different to any other business when everyone was coming out of the first lockdown, there was a complete mindset shift and a reassessment – one that saw tradespeople prioritise their personal lives more than the demanding jobs they were doing.

Ms Silvers said: “Being a tradesperson is incredibly demanding, physically and mentally, and tiring on the body.

“After spending those first three months at home during the initial lockdown, there was a shift to those same people not wanting to be on the road all the time and wanting to be near their families.

“That’s leading to those people exploring new avenues and different opportunities, considering their options.

“Another issue that needs to be addressed is training and apprenticeship schemes on offer.

“As mentioned, there is nothing in place for someone to learn a multi-trade. Addressing that would be significant.

“That is something that Passmore is exploring, creating, in time, our own apprenticeship academy or training school, which will give us the capacity to take on single skills and further develop them.

“There’s nothing out there at the moment. We’re not on our own in thinking that. The lack of multiskilled tradespeople is a huge issue.

“It comes down to having a survive or thrive mentality and what we can do as businesses to provide these solutions.

“So, as a business, you can focus on just hiring single-skill workers, or look further ahead at training development, taking those single-skill workers and developing a broader range of skills.

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