Industry calls on British Army to plug skills gap

A professional body has joined a campaign to attract former members of the UK’s armed forces to join the country’s skills-starved construction industry.

Nearly a quarter of a million (230,000) new workers are needed for the industry by 2020 and with fewer graduates coming into the sector, military leavers are a viable untapped resource that should be utilised, according to the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

Currently around 20,000 people leave the military every year and many possess the skills and background needed for a successful career in construction, the CIOB says.

Ahead of the UK’s Armed Forces Day on 25 June, the CIOB, which accredits built environment management professionals around the world, has thrown its weight behind "BuildForce" – a cross-industry initiative to raise awareness of construction careers among armed forces leavers and veterans, and strengthen recruitment from the services into the sector.

BuildForce is part-funded by UK skills and training body, the Construction Industry Training Board, and is led by a group of founding companies: Carillion, Crossrail, EY, Lendlease, Morgan Sindall and Wilson James.

Following a successful 18 month pilot, the initiative is now expanding to include more industry partners.

Chris Chivers, CIOB president, said: "Construction is a people-based industry, and it needs leaders just as urgently as those with technical skills. For ex-military personnel, there has never been a better time to join the sector. Technological advances are creating new and exciting opportunities."

A video explaining the issues can be seen here.

More information can be found here.

Image: British cadets in training in Germany (Wikimedia Commons)

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  2. While I applaud the idea… Veterans leaving the Army after a full career are 40+ years old. Many (including myself) have high levels of management experience and qualifications and wish to take advantage of the fruits of their labours.

    Service leavers who have not completed a full career may well take advantage of the opportunity, but unless there is a significant carrot I doubt that many would wish to revert to a manual labour task.

    Plumbing and skilled craftsmanship jobs may take some interest but bricklaying, scaffolding etc I very much doubt would interest …. Well anyone.

  3. Totally agree with the author with regards to this article, the armed forces spends a lot of its time training and developing individuals at all levels, from the shop floor to Board level type roles. The biggest problem is with some companies who have a very blinkered mind set as these individuals have no “commercial” experience and will not entertain these individuals.

  4. I have been tasked with setting up a data base that will include all Royal Engineers looking for work either in the process of leaving or looking for other employment.

    I would be very interested incorporating this set up with that of CIOB.

  5. Why after years of graft and hard work would soldiers want too join the building trade. Especially the guys who have had a long career in the army, it would not be something that would apeal to my self.

  6. The CIOB campaign is focussing around ‘management level’ careers in construction Jamie rather than at the trade level. You can find out more at:-

    Sounds very interesting Bob please do get in touch at [email protected]

  7. I am a massive champion of Ex Forces personnel, like myself, working within the Construction industry, and as a Construction Training provider we are also seeking new ways in which to deliver bespoke packages to Ex Forces and utilising our large cliental base to create work placements. Those companies that do take on Ex Forces post training and work placement will also be offered unrivalled discounts on future construction NVQs delivered by us to minimise the financial burden whilst they upskill.

    One thing I do not agree on though is Mr Rhodes comments in the book ref Capts & Maj only being recommended by him in fulfilling high end managerial roles – do not discount the raft of highly skills SNCO’s and WO’s that mould the very Officers he mentioned. They too have a the ability and skillset to deliver the goods!

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