workforce planning | ISG

Construction: the great overlooked tool in our strategic workforce planning

ISG’s latest Wide Angle, ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum’, seeks to connect the dots between people, place and productivity. 

One of the primary limiting factors impacting organisations across the public and private sectors is access to a correctly skilled workforce. Today, skills demand outstrips supply, and this situation will persist unless we change our approach to identifying and planning for our future workforce requirements. 

Building a sustainable talent pipeline

Generating a sustainable and future-focused pipeline of talent requires the mapping of skills to opportunity, and we must have confidence in the insight and data we use to inform this process. Fortunately, we already have a highly-significant proxy for future skills demand. Investment in the built environment represents a significantly underused asset as an early predictor of emerging sectors, growth markets and highly-valued skills. Conversely, reduced investment in physical assets could provide an early warning of future sector, and therefore skills, viability.

“Early-stage mapping of the investments organisations make in physical assets could prove the catalyst for a skills and training transformation. ”

By interrogating data on investment decisions at the earliest stages, we create a dynamic and forward-looking perspective on future skills demand at a national, regional and local level. We stimulate earlier engagement and collaboration between organisations, educators, young people and parents/carers to map skills and aspirations to future opportunities; creating a more targeted talent pipeline and a perception reset for the built environment as a desirable career option.

Watch ISG’s COO Zoe Price and sector directors Paul Serkis and Jane O'Leary discuss the findings and explore how the UK upskills and prepares for the careers of the future:

rethinking the skills conundum | ISG
ISG's COO Zoe Price and sector directors Paul Serkis and Jane O'Leary discuss the findings from ISG's latest Wide Angle, ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum’, seeking to connect the dots between people, places and productivity.

At a glance 

 What can this report help achieve?  

  • Greater co-ordination between future talent, parents and carers, educators and training organisations, transforming how the UK upskills and prepares for the careers of the future.  

  • Inward investment decisions based on highly skilled workforce criteria.  

  • Promotion of the UK as an attractive destination for business investment based on our high-skills and high-knowledge economy. 

The UK skills landscape | ISG

The UK skills landscape: Preparing for growth

The UK's ambitious plans for growth present an opportunity to be more streamlined, agile and strategic in our national skills approach.

Many key industries with large investment pipelines are prioritising workforce factors as a key determining factor in asset-planning strategies.

An example of industry demand comes from film producer and former Member of the House of Lords, David Puttnam, who has identified skills shortage and lack of investment in skills as a 'major crisis' hanging over the industry.

“Enhanced visibility and transparency of data on planned investment areas will greatly assist the sustainable supply of a well-trained workforce equipped with the requisite skills. ”

Proactive workforce planning | ISG

Moving from reactive to proactive strategic workforce planning

By unleashing the potential of our existing data we spread opportunity, reduce inequality and promote forward skills-planning visibility. Young people will need this reassurance to inform their career pathways. 

The key is to support incumbent businesses while preparing for the skills of the future, matching young people to guaranteed opportunities. The coordination of planning data with industries across the UK creates tangible opportunities to learn, train and work on local levels.

Using built environment data for future skills pipeline | ISG

By using built environment planning data to identify the key skills required in the immediate future, we can begin to map specific skills fundamental to the current UK economy and tackle any future pipeline issues.  

Construction pipeline data: The underused planning tool

Emerging industries bring new employment opportunities, and understandably young people, parents and carers, and educators are looking for secure pathways that match skills profiles and aspirations with tangible pathways into rewarding careers.
This research into the UK skills landscape is helpful to the next generation of employers, educators and future talent. It gives time to mobilise potential skills and labour supply, if it’s used efficiently and conversations are started now.
construction pipeline data is the underused planning tool | ISG
Graph showing the value of UK construction projects in pipeline by sector
understanding current perceptions of key and current future industries | ISG

Matching aspirations to pathways to overcome the skills shortage 

A crucial element is understanding the current perceptions of key current and future industries and the roles available, and addressing potential perception challenges that impact career pathways.
To assess the quantum of the perception challenge, ISG conducted surveys among 1,000 young people and 1,000 parents of students aged 16-24 to determine sentiment on industry, roles, skills and ambitions in the UK.
understanding opportunities | ISG

Understanding opportunity: Redefining industries to attract great talent

For those key industries that are outlining future skills demand as a priority, this report highlights the importance of addressing some fundamental misconceptions about the opportunities industries have to offer.
Looking more closely at the construction industry, for example, 53% of young people and 63% of parents agreed that construction enabled the creation of more sustainable communities. However, there remains a gulf in knowledge on the true range of roles available in the industry, construction’s key role in advancing technology, and the opportunities for career progression.

In focus

We’ll be exploring the skills conundrum across the UK, bringing you the latest sector insights direct from our teams on-site with their clients – featuring video and commentary from our experts in sustainability, social value, supply chain, talent acquisition and sector specialisms on how we can collectively address rising skills shortages through a demand-led skills revolution.

Education and workplace | ISG

Education and Workplace

Featuring a spotlight on our deep retrofit project for The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). We’ll be exploring how businesses and institutions are prioritising high-quality facilities to attract top talent, and how owners are managing to meet tenant demand for more quality space alongside an ever-steepening requirement for supply chain skills required to support upgrading of existing stock to meet energy efficiency standards.

Film and TV | ISG

Film and TV

The film and TV sector is growing rapidly - for those looking to meet current and increasing future demands, a first-mover advantage in rethinking their approach could be an accelerating force in the war for talent. Find out what our sector experts and talent acquisition specialists think is the way to overcome a rising skills shortage.

Pharma Manufacturing | ISG

Science and Research

The hotspots of regional growth in the UK mirror and reflect ambitious new location strategies from emerging industries that are an essential part of the UK’s growth strategy. With the North East highlighted as an area of interest, we take a look at current projects and the opportunities for advanced manufacturing to build the necessary skills and talent pipeline. 
Justice and Defence | ISG


Planned sector growth will require a holistic skills approach and must be rooted in partnership between central and local government, educators, research institutions, training organisations and the private sector. Our social value experts work closely with project teams to build relationship on trust, collaboration and with a legacy mindset – hear what they have to say on how greater accessibility of national planning data could be a catalyst for skills master planning.
Energy imagery


The clock ticks down on climate change, while our energy systems struggle to keep pace with growing demand. We explore how earlier collaboration across the entire stakeholder landscape could be key to unlocking many more opportunities for delivery excellence within the energy sector. Turning competition to collaboration has the potential to profoundly change our industry’s ability to deliver on energy aspirations. 



In a digital world, rapid growth in technology and data consumption are creating exciting opportunities for datacentre connectivity and performance. We discuss how global technology firms are committing to innovative approaches within their physical datacentre assets to keep up with the demand for data. Engaging contactors early in the development process is key to this innovation. 
Ana Yao Sun | ISG

From BIM technician to Science Museum video star: Ana’s life is inspiring the next generation.

Ana Yao Sun, a Building Information Modelling (BIM) technician who joined ISG in summer 2019, doesn’t love being the centre of attention. When her name was put forward to front a video for the Science Museum in London, UK, as a representative from the construction industry, she questioned it. She freely admits she was “a bit sceptical but willing to give it a go”.


UK skills shortage | ISG

See it and you can be it – know it and you can grow it – transparency will unlock the UK’s skills conundrum

ISG hosted an event at The Science Museum in London to launch 'Rethinking the skills conundrum' research. Joining Zoe Price, Global Chief Operating Officer at ISG to debate how this novel approach could prove transformational for UK plc. were Susan Raikes, Director of Learning at The Science Museum Group, David White, Chief Operating Officer at Rolls-Royce (RR) SMR and Rosa Wells, Executive Dean for Engineering, Digital and Sustainable Construction at University College Birmingham.

Discover Wide Angle

Through Wide Angle, we work with some of the brightest minds across the construction landscape and beyond, bringing together leaders, experts and specialists to explore the topics, insights and research that really matter, now and in the future.   Read more here
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