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dev Banc
8 July 2024
Built Environment

Construction Professionals Struggle to Recruit Candidates with Sustainability Skills

Built environment professionals in Wales say they desperately need candidates with sustainability skills but struggle to find trained talent.

This is according to new research from the University College of Estate Management (UCEM), an online university which aims to lead the way in sustainability in the built environment.

A total of 80% of those in the built environment sector say their organisation would lose its competitive edge without sustainability skills and 95% of respondents said that having sustainability skills makes a candidate applying for a role more interesting to them.

However, 90% said there is an acute shortage of skills and 73% report that recruiting people with the right sustainability skills is a challenge.

The survey also revealed the demand for those skills will only increase, with 83% of respondents anticipating the need to recruit people with sustainability skills will soar in the next few years.

Stephen Bartle, Pro Vice-Chancellor at UCEM, says sustainability is an increasingly pressing concern for Wales's built environment, which will need to reduce emissions drastically to meet the UK’s net-zero targets.

“The UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe which creates significant problems around sustainability and energy conservation,” he said.

“Built environment professionals in Wales are facing looming environmental legislation, yet there is still a shortage of the skills required to meet legal requirements.

“This is a wake-up call for the sector to invest in training that meets financial, legal, and ethical obligations, yet it also highlights the economic opportunity that sustainability presents to both employers and jobseekers.”

The skills deficit has also created intense competition between employers, with 73% of respondents in Wales reporting fighting for skilled sustainability talent, while 90% of local respondents say that upskilling employees will be essential to address the sustainability skills shortage in their industry.

90% said that shaping a sustainable built environment is essential for the future of society.

Stephen added:

“More and more we are seeing that colleagues feel passionately about being part of an organisation that has a positive social impact. They want work to be meaningful and meeting that drive is strongly linked to both performance and retention.”

Other findings include 95% of respondents saying their workforce in Wales would benefit from more sustainability-skills training and development and 95% highlighting that the most highly sought-after skill is optimising energy use and carbon emissions, followed by optimising buildings for health and wellbeing (93%), and actively contributing to enhancing the sector’s performance on sustainability (90%). A total of 93% of respondents agreed that sustainability solutions are a core focus of their industry.

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