Young people in the sector must be nurtured

Clive Wilmott

By Clive Wilmott, construction safety consultant at Thomas & Adamson

HEALTH and safety is a prerequisite in every industry to satisfy regulatory requirements, but even more so with organisations involved in major construction and infrastructure projects.  

The need for experienced health and safety specialists is as important as ever as regulatory requirements become more onerous and legal duties continues to grow.  

Yet at Thomas & Adamson, we have noticed a real shortage of graduates and young people generally joining the profession. 

It’s no secret that the construction sector in the UK has been in the grips of a prolonged skills shortage for many years, and it’s also widely recognised that the management of health risks has not kept pace with safety. With a large percentage of health and safety professionals falling into the ageing workforce bracket, we should be doing more to encourage and nurture young people coming into an industry that represents a viable career path. 

With health and safety becoming more important to businesses, I would argue that it’s a very gratifying, well rewarded sector to be a part of and that it is being overlooked. However, it has such low visibility as a profession with many seeing it as a ‘necessary evil’ and not a promising line of work with good career prospects.

Brexit is another challenge, and the direct impact this will have on the sector remains unclear, although we are already seeing pressure on the labour market.Many of the recent amendments to existing regulations we are seeing on the HSE website are relatively minor and include removing EU references, but the standard legal requirements, and the protections these provide, will be the same as they are now. Obligations to protect people’s health and safety will not be affected by Brexit and be preserved to the UK’s current high standards.

It’s not all doom and gloom however; there are signs of optimism with a growing demand for construction safety specialists and principal designers, and at Thomas & Adamson we are often asked to provide professional CDM advice for architectural practices. 

We remain positive about the future of the sector.