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Training transformation

Without the necessary skills and knowledge you have a workforce that is – at best – unable to drive innovation and development and – at worst – unequipped to work safely and efficient, says Martin Hottass, Corporate Development Director at 3t

Working closely with safety-critical industries such as construction, we often hear concerns about emerging skills gaps and the barriers these present to achieving ambitious net zero targets.

Linesight’s ‘Construction Market Insights – Europe’ found that the skills shortage within the construction industry is more prevalent than in others. For the UK, the findings reiterate previous reports from the UK Trade Skills Index that pointed to demand for 937,000 recruits over the next decade.

A limited talent pool that meet the requirements of particular skill sets is delaying construction projects where the demand for skilled labour is high, often because of well-known and documented factors such as a decline in apprenticeships, the ageing workforce, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the image associated with a career in construction.

As providers of high-impact training, it is our responsibility to help close this gap and mitigate the risk of an unprepared workforce.


To support the next generation, we must break down the existing barriers to help delegates excel, unlock their potential, and kickstart their careers. In an industry sector where the demand for employment and skills is driven by a variety of projects, it’s important to equip colleagues with transferrable skills. This is why training is needed to provide people with the tools to transition between different projects, from residential and commercial construction, to high-tech industrial, manufacturing, retrofitting, and infrastructure sectors.

The need to attract talent is vital when you consider that over 35 per cent of existing personnel are aged 50+, and there are dwindling numbers of young people entering the industry (UK Trade Skills Index 2023). To avoid additional skills shortages, we must engage with the next generation. It is here that apprenticeships provide a vital route.

The UK Trades Skills Index 2023 found the number of construction apprentices has been falling approximately 11 per cent every year since 2017/18. This is partially explained by the major problems surrounding the industry for instance, a Construction Industry Training Board report found that industry appeal scored just 4.2 out of 10 among 14 to 19-year-olds, who cite a lack of career development and the preference to go to university and college.

To challenge this perception, there needs to be close collaboration between the industry, the Government and educational institutions to incentivise young people to consider construction careers and embrace the lifelong development this offers. Through access to continued training and development, understanding employment routes available, and providing opportunities for career development and new skills, we can showcase the potential of careers in construction.

In England, the Department for Education’s Skills for Life fund has created a vehicle to fund ‘bootcamps’ – courses between 3-16 weeks’ duration that equip new entrants with the skills needed to forge a career. 3t already runs these bootcamps within the Green Skills and Utilities sectors, enabling employers to secure entry-level talent from diverse backgrounds. A similar approach within construction would be hugely beneficial.


Research from MIT Sloan Management Review shows that the ability to make lateral career moves was 2.5 times more important than pay and 12 times more effective than promotions for employee retention. Because workforce habits are changing, and career paths are no longer linear, new entrants seeking greater autonomy in their career paths want to gain transferrable skills which is why we offer dynamic and flexible approaches to training.

These flexible learning and development initiatives allow individuals to transition between sectors and project types. Competency frameworks have been found to be beneficial in industries where new technologies and trends emerge frequently – such as construction. Because competency frameworks combine skills, knowledge, behaviours, and attributes that offer a holistic view of the skills needed for current and future roles, individuals can excel in specific roles or industries.

Workforce trends also show that individuals want to keep learning and progressing, which is why training needs to be engaging and effective. By providing immersive, hands-on training within risk-free environments using VR and simulation technology, we equip delegates with the necessary skills via a refreshing and exciting approach.


A fifth of construction professionals believe talent shortages in the next decade will stem from a lack of digital skills (The New Civil Engineer). Developing individual experience with technology early in the learning process by implementing AR, AI, VR, and learning through Digital Twins is vital to creating familiarity for later in their careers.

For example, 3t has developed and deployed VR-based scenarios to showcase what a career in Offshore Wind Turbine Maintenance looks like, enabling students to gain realistic insights into potential careers. Considering the Offshore Wind Industry faces similar recruitment challenges, an approach that utilises VR and gamification to engage with young people needs to be implemented within construction.

Modern, technology-enabled training, access to funding and apprenticeships, and a connected competence approach to help navigate dynamic career paths can attract and engage younger generations to tackle the skills gap within the construction industry head-on.

About Sarah OBeirne

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