JBH Refurbishments Tackles Construction Skills Shortage Head On With Primary School Initiative

5th April 2019
Jason Hubbard

Small construction firms are set to be hit hardest by shortage in skilled labour as a result of Brexit. Among them is commercial fit out company, JBH Refurbishments, which has launched its own design initiative for primary schools to encourage the next generation of construction workers and tackle the skills shortage head on.

The skills shortage in Britain’s construction industry has been well documented since the last recession and Brexit brings the latest wave in skills shortage in the sector. While the construction industry workforce comprises 90 percent of British citizens, 50 percent are aged 45 and over.

“This means that over the next 10 years we are set to lose half our workforce to retirement,” says Jason Hubbard, who own JBH Refurbishments, a small fit out company in Staplehurst, Kent.

“The industry faces two issues: an aging workforce, set to retire in the next 10 years, and a reduction in EU skilled workers, who once would have helped bridge the gap.”

EU Nationals make up 8 percent of construction workers in this country and the uncertainty of Brexit means the UK construction industry is no longer an appealing prospect for skilled workers from the EU.

“The lack of skilled and reliable workers will cause the remaining workforce to command higher wages and will be stretched even more so than it is now. For the small construction firms, this will have a detrimental effect on profit margins.

“The construction industry, including the small business owners, like myself, needs to do more now to encourage and educate the next generation of skilled workers. This is not just an opportunity to implement a recruitment drive for ex-convicts, as it has been suggested in the past. Although I am not against this solution, it should not be the focus.

“This is a sector that commands an excellent work ethic and offers a fulfilling career with progression. We should all be promoting construction as viable and interesting career to young people now.”

Mr. Hubbard’s company, JBH Refurbishments is hoping to tackle the issue with its initiative for primary schools in the South East. ‘Design the Best Classroom Ever’ is an educational and creative project for primary school pupil aged 4 to 11. They are asked to put their methodical, practical and creative skills to the test to design a classroom interior that is ideal for their learning needs.

JBH has created an information pack, with templates and suggestions for schools to download. They have even developed a presentation for schools to launch the initiative to children in a fun and engaging way, using images of Minecraft and building bricks.

As an incentive, schools can opt to submit their ideas into a regional competition to win £250 in classroom supplies. There are two prizes up for grabs – one for key stage one (inclusive of Early Years) and key stage two.

“Through this initiative, we are hoping to inspire the next generation of skilled construction workers, interior designers and architects,” concludes Hubbard.

Preparing to help the JBH Refurbishments team judge the competition entries is Iain McIlwee, the CEO of FIS, which is the industry voice of the Finishes and Interior Sector.

“This is a brilliant initiative. In order to attract the next generation into construction, the first step is to create a positive image and help schools to demonstrate what an amazing and creative sector it can be,” explains McIlwee.

Teachers and parents can download the ‘Design the Best Classroom Ever’ information pack from www.jbhrefurbishments.co.uk or email camilla@jbhrefurbishments.co.uk

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