Soft skills are becoming just as important as hard skills and qualifications for the UK construction industry, according to new research from specialist recruiter Randstad CPE.
Over two fifths (43%) of all job opportunities in construction and related fields now explicitly mention ‘team work’ – not far behind the 51% of all UK vacancies that stress the importance of team work across the whole UK jobs market. This also means that in the construction industry, a capacity for team work is more important than an individual’s own individual skill – the word ‘skill’ in fact appears less frequently than ‘team work’, in just 37% of current vacancies.
Traditional trades and specialisms, while vital to the success of all construction projects, are also in demand in conjunction with softer skills. While 10% of construction vacancies mention a ‘trade’ of some sort, a greater proportion (12%) of job adverts mention the importance of ‘time management’. Even more important to employers, a capacity for ‘communication’ is referenced for 16% of construction jobs.
"We consistently see the most successful candidates not only fill all the requirements on paper, but also have the ability to apply their experience in real, human situations"
Owen Goodhead, MD of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering, comments: “Construction is a modern industry – and it needs people with the skills of any other modern workplace.
“This also demonstrates the specialism and complexity of modern careers in construction. Even the smallest residential building site has always depended utterly on team work to reach fruition, let alone most modern engineering jobs, and everyone working on the enormous infrastructure projects rolling out across the UK.
“This matters to everyone, from architects to electricians. For example, there are twice as many vacancies mentioning ‘team work’ as do the word ‘surveyor’ – even at a time of steaming demand for building surveyors and quantity surveyors. We consistently see the most successful candidates not only fill all the requirements on paper, but also have the ability to apply their experience in real, human situations.”
Soft skills already worth £5.6 billion in the UK construction industry
Recent research has demonstrated the value of soft skills to the wider UK economy. A report by Development Economics showed that soft skills are currently worth £88 billion to the entire national output.
Given that the construction industry makes up 6.4% of GDP, this implies that soft skills are worth around £5.6 billion to the UK construction industry alone. The same research estimates that the value of soft skills to the UK will rise to £109 billion over the next five years, which implies that by 2020 soft skills will be worth £7 billion to UK construction.
Owen Goodhead concludes: “Construction is evolving culturally even faster than the rest of Britain – in just the same way as construction output is growing even more quickly than the rest of the motoring UK economy.
“Vacancies are rising and construction jobs are there for the taking. But as employers make the most of this warming climate, they still want to build effective teams and invest in the right people – whether for short-term projects or for the long-term growth of their businesses.
“Given the impact of the built environment on all aspects of society, it’s hardly surprising that cultural issues and soft skills matter for the successful designers and architects, or those in planning jobs. But for everyone in the construction industry, in all roles, personal and team success always depends on how we apply our hard skills and work together. Employers care about that – because ultimately it helps the bottom line. For those looking to move jobs, an attention to softer skills can help their own personal bottom line too.”
Soft skills prominence: jobs in construction | entire UK jobs market
- team work 43% | 51%
- communication 16% | 21%
- time management 12% | 14%
- effective 9% | 18%
- relationships 5% | 17%
- confident 5% | 7%
- motivated 4% | 7%
- desire 3% | 5%
- initiative 3% | 6%
- leadership 2% | 6%