WITHIN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY we are confronted with a labour market contradiction: on the one hand unemployment rates remain at high levels in many Member States, in particular amongst youngsters, whilst, on the other hand, many vacancies are available in the construction industry. Workers and construction companies are confronted with difficulties in matching the right skills and professional qualifications with the needs of the companies.
Several factors can explain this situation:
• Innovation and technological changes, very often driven by external providers, are growing at an increasingly rapid pace. They have a strong influence on market needs and are thereby putting pressure on existing training schemes, which have to take such changes into account. Anticipating future skills needs is therefore a significant challenge for companies, as well as for training providers.
• “Green” policies, and in particular energy efficient work, require close coordination between the different occupations on a worksite, placing demands on these occupations that go beyond their immediate scope of responsibilities to understanding the building fabric as a unified system. This requires enhanced technical knowledge and soft skills associated with, amongst others, communication, team working and self-management.
• Despite a number of initiatives to make the construction sector more attractive, there are still difficulties in attracting and retaining women and, in several countries, young people in general. Combined with an ageing workforce, there is therefore a clear need to address such recruitment problems in the industry, amongst others through a more open and permeable labour market and construction process.
For the European Union (EU) Social Partners for the construction industry, the EFBWW (European Federation of Building and Woodworkers) and FIEC (European Construction Industry Federation AISBL), addressing these challenges is a priority and they have therefore been included in the multi-annual work programme of the “Construction” Social Dialogue Committee.
This project, which has been undertaken in cooperation with the University of Westminster and which was co-funded by the European Commission
(DG EMPL), aims at providing some answers to the above mentioned challenges by looking at the situation in 10 different Member States and by developing some guidelines and recommendations, based on practical case studies.
Both the EFBWW and FIEC are convinced that strong cooperation between workers’ and employers’ representatives, as well as with vocational education and training (VET) providers, is key for improving the attractiveness and inclusiveness of our industry and thereby also its overall competitiveness.
We would like to thank all the colleagues who contributed to the achievement of this project, which constitutes a strong basis for future joint initiatives.