Gleeds Global Challenge takes place from 16th – 20th October, with staff across 68 global offices set the donate 7,500 hours of volunteering with the aim to inspire the next generation.

Here, Gleeds Worldwide Chairman Richard Steer gives insight into how the industry has changed since he began working within construction and discusses how this year’s Global Challenge will help address the current industry skills shortage.

Q: Gleeds teams across the world will be giving young people an insight into every aspect of the construction industry. How do you think the proposed 7,500 volunteered hours will help address the current industry skills shortage?

Our industry is facing a huge challenge in terms of recruiting new staff and it is up to us to try and increase the appeal of a career in construction, encouraging the next generation to consider a career in our industry. I am confident that this year’s Global Challenge can inspire students everywhere to look at construction in a new light and I can’t wait to see their imagination and creativity put on display.

Q: What could it mean for the construction and property industry if the current skill shortage isn’t addressed?

The issues surrounding the skills shortage cannot be underestimated or ignored. As it stands, we have a predicted shortfall of more than 400,000 people needed for the industry between now and 2020. What’s more, within the UK the construction industry equates to approximately 7% of GDP – so if supply can’t keep up with demand, there could be big ramifications for the British economy.

Q: What is the most notable thing you would say has changed since you began working within the industry?

The gender demographic is something that has continued to change since I began working within the industry. From a time when construction was dominated by men, women now play a huge role in shaping the future of the industry. We need to make sure that we continue to highlight construction as an industry for everyone, and that’s what we will be looking to achieve as part of this year’s Global Challenge.

Q: What role does the Gleeds Global Challenge have in tackling the industry wide skills shortage?

This year’s Global Challenge will set the benchmark for organisations within our industry in doing everything we can to bridge the skills gap. This skills shortage is arguably the biggest challenge we are facing, and we must do all we can to promote the vast amount of careers and opportunities available.  But beyond this issue, we consider ourselves part of the local communities in which we operate, and the next generation is the future of our industry, which is why this is a global initiative.

Q: If you could bust a myth about the construction industry, what would it be?

The construction industry isn’t just about working in high-vis vests and hard hats! The possibilities are endless, with careers covering various sectors and services, there really are opportunities for all. 

Richard Steer Chairman Gleeds

Richard Steer