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With better direction, former service personnel can orientate themselves towards rewarding opportunities within the construction industry

James Dimmock, Sector Director for Defence, provides an insight into his thoughts on reading ISG’s latest Wide Angle report, ‘Rethinking the skills conundrum’.
Modern service personnel operate in a complex, fast paced and dynamic environment that creates a skill set that is easily adaptable when they are ready to transition into their next career.

Service leavers are invariably adaptable, practical and highly resilient with an inbuilt discipline and commitment to excellence that makes them a rich talent resource. The highly-valued attributes of teamwork, problem solving and leadership are instinctively part of our service personnel’s skill set, and also feature strongly within the complex and tech-led built environment sector – more on that later. 
The UK, like many nations, has an ever-growing skills challenge, which is directly impacting major investment decisions that have the potential to be transformative to communities and wider society. The absence of a single UK-wide skills master planning strategy has led to a fragmented and short-term focus on vacancies for many industries and potential future talent, rather than a strategic plan for a sustainable and relevant skills pipeline. But we believe we’ve got a solution that mirrors the very cornerstone of military planning – in the area of intelligence.

Our latest white paper highlighted the importance of early-stage planning data as that intelligence source. If we understand what physical assets are being planned and invested in across the UK – then we have time and a chance to create routes to high value and well rewarded career opportunities.

Interrogating this data further also provides patterns of investment, highlighting clustering of sectors within geographical areas, data that’s essential when we need the confidence to commit to transfer and potentially learn new skills to support current and emerging sectors. By unlocking and centralising our planning data  into a single, open-source resource, we create an invaluable asset, forecasting skills demand that can extend five years and beyond into the future.   

Back to my earlier reference to the built environment, it’s clear to me that this sector is a natural home to forge a career utilising many of the skills developed within the armed forces in an industry burgeoning with opportunity. I’m heartened to see there is certainly a growing consensus among built environment professionals of the strength of the former service personnel talent pool.

But to really capitalise on the skills and expertise of former service personnel, the built environment must get better at articulating what it means to work in our sector. Through recent placements offered to the British Army’s Corps of Royal Engineers students, we are finding ways to help change perceptions around the skill sets required in our industry from within the armed forces.

“An aspect that truly fascinated me was the renovation of the 19th century building. This project posed significant challenges and witnessing the complexities involved was eye-opening.”

Sgt Thapa, Royal Engineer, on his placement at our HMP Birmingham site

Beyond skills, something common to both construction professionals and our armed forces, is legacy; leaving the world in a better position as a result of our endeavours, secure and prosperous.

Words associated with military service, such as security, team, the chance to make a difference and ultimately, a sense of belonging can so easily be applied to the built environment. Making the connections and articulating that sense of purpose and legacy is a critical way our sector can resonate with former service personnel. 
That visibility of such goals can be helped by a shared commitment to taking a longer-term perspective on infrastructure investment across the UK. ISG’s appointment on a 10-year programme of capital investment across the MoD estate means that our teams will be creating infrastructure that will become a force multiplier for our armed services – put simply, it will make them more effective. Delivering physical spaces that further enhance the training, recovery and preparedness of our forces takes that legacy dimension to another level – and this type of opportunity exists across our sector today. 

To learn more about the opportunities available at ISG and our armed forces commitments, click here.
Skills shortage | ISG

Construction: the great overlooked tool in our strategic workforce planning

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

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