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National and Regional Reports

National Employer Skills Survey 2003 summary for ConstructionSkills

What is it?

This report summarises the findings of the National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) 2003 for the ConstructionSkills Sector Skills Council

What is the aim?

The NESS was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council, in partnership with the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) and the Department for Education and Skills, in order to provide detailed information about the extent, causes and implications of England’s recruitment problems and skill gaps. It also measures employers’ training activities.

The NESS survey is the largest survey of its kind ever commissioned (some 72,100 establishment interviews). The survey covers all establishments with at least two people in employment, so includes the very smallest employers. A survey of this size was commissioned to allow, for the first time, a robust analysis of the economy’s building blocks, including sectoral analysis. Because of this, the SSDA has commissioned reports for a number of Sector Skills Councils.

Sectoral data from the NESS can only be provided on the basis of SIC codes. For the ConstructionSkills SSC this consists of all who are within SIC code 45 and those in SIC code 74.2. These have been grouped into four areas:

  • site preparation and building, site preparation (SIC code 45.1) and building of complete constructions (or parts of) and civil engineering (45.2);
  • building installation and completion, including building installation (45.3) and building completion (45.4);
  • renting, which is the renting of construction or demolition equipment with operator (SIC code 45.5); and
  • consultancy, which is architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy SIC code 74.2).

How does it achieve this?

In total, the NESS conducted 9,469 interviews with establishments in the sector. The sample size is more than sufficient for each of the sub-sectors, with the exception of the renting sector

Produced in partnership?

Produced by SSDA

Summary / Conclusion

  • eight per cent of establishments in the ConstructionSkills SSC area reported that they were facing hard-to-fill vacancies and six per cent of establishments skill shortage vacancies. This equates to 29,743 and 19,646 jobs in the area respectively, some 1.8 and 1.2 per cent of all employment respectively. These levels are higher than the respective England levels;
  • 18 per cent of establishments in the ConstructionSkills SSC area suffer from internal skill gaps, with staff being regarded as less than fully proficient. This equates to 147,200 jobs in the area, some nine per cent of all jobs, a lower rate than England overall. It is evident that the volume of skill gaps far exceed that of recruitment difficulties;
  • the largest firms in ConstructionSkills SSC area are proportionately more likely to have hard-to-fill vacancies, but in terms of actual numbers the largest proportion of hard-to-fill and skill shortage vacancies lie within the smallest firms. Larger firms are also more likely to have skills gaps and also have the highest proportion of staff suffering from skill gaps;
  • vacancies and skill gaps in the ConstructionSkills SSC area are predominantly for Skilled trades occupations and (to a lesser extent) Professional occupations, in the case of skill shortage vacancies, their share is disproportionate to the employment share of this occupational group;
  • the main causes of hard-to-fill vacancies are low numbers of applicants with the required skills, attitude, a lack of people interested in doing this sort of work and a low number of applicants generally. The main causes of skill gaps are the lack of experience of the member of staff – it appears that skill gaps are linked to recruitment difficulties;
  • the most common skills lacking in applicants are technical and practical skills, communication skills, and problem solving skills The major area of skill gaps are in technical and practical skills, communication skills and problem solving skills. Skills that are in shortage reflect the nature of the job: Skilled trades staff are more likely to have deficiencies in technical and practical skills, managers and senior officials lack management skills, etc;
  • whilst the extent of hard-to-fill, skill shortage vacancies and skill gaps may be limited, the impact can be severe. Only one per cent of establishments who had a skill shortage vacancies say that they were having no impact, and where they were impacting they were increasing workload for other members of staff, causing a loss of orders, creating difficulties in meeting customer service objectives and creating delays in developing new products and services;
  • • It is apparent that skill shortage vacancies amongst skilled trades occupations continue to be a major issue to employers in the ConstructionSkills area, perhaps reflecting the length of training required before an individual can take up a vacancy and the adjustment to current reported employment growth in the sector.

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National Employers Skills Survey 2003 257kb PDF file

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