Written evidence submitted by Mr Mark Stride, Dr Suresh Renukappa and Dr Subashini Suresh, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton
Can Infrastructure Sector Adopt Net Zero Talent Management Strategies
- This written evidence provides a richer insight into the understanding and awareness of net zero talent management strategies and how the UK infrastructure industry must adapt to help it become more sustainable. This written evidence contributes towards informing policymakers on how organisations and the construction industry can improve net zero workforces.
- Five I’s (i.e. Innovation, Implementation, Industry 4.0/5.0, Incentivise and Inclusion) are recommended that have been recognised and should be implemented to help employers and employees progress net zero talent management strategies.
Brief introduction and reasons for submitting evidence:
In October 2021 the 26th Conference of All Parties (COP26) met to understand how the world can strive to produce a carbon net-zero climate whilst producing 4 key goals
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
- Mobilise finance.
- Work together to deliver.
Using these goals, the UK workplace, in particular the UK’s construction industry must take responsibility for its actions. The UK construction industry has the largest gross domestic produce (GDP) contributing to 7% of the UK economy. Therefore, as the UK progresses out of the Covid-19 pandemic where the construction industry has had to become innovative and increasingly leaner this is an opportune moment for the sector to concentrate on contributing to world goals by aiming to produce net zero workforces.
- Covid-19 has brought immediate unprecedented change to many construction companies and their workplaces. The pandemic has drastically changed the way we work, communicate and socialise leaving us with significant daily changes. This has helped the construction sector become leaner and increasingly efficient. A key example of this is that prior to the pandemic 12.4% of the workforce worked remotely however this has increased to 25.9% who now have the option to work remotely. This has had a subsequent effect on the UK economy showing a £1.1 billion saving which includes commuting costs and office closures.
- This document is a review of published journal papers that relate to carbon net zero throughout the construction industry. Whilst doing this, data and statistics were reviewed to help understand how companies can strive toward net-zero workforces whilst providing recommendations to Government and the construction industry.
- Many employees have environmental concerns and want to be employed for organisations who are ambitious to improve upon sustainability. Results show that more than eight in 10 women and seven in 10 men say they want to play a role in tackling climate change. Therefore, it is important that organisations invest in sustainability that will help attract new talent that will buy into company aims and objectives.
- The UK construction industry is responsible for over 9% of the UK workforce, but lag behind many other industries that are now advancing from industry 4.0 to industry 5.0. The sector is still teaching and practising very traditional methods of working; however, many construction professionals insist that new skills sets are required to overcome the challenges of net zero talent management. Therefore, a holistic approach across the sector involving every employee will be needed to upskill and retrain the labour market which may dissipate sections within businesses in order to achieve government goals.
- It is essential that the construction industry uses the economic downturn to attract new talent from other industries whilst promoting the construction industry to young enthusiastic students who will offer a new dimension of digital working whilst the aging workers are retiring.
- Digitalisation is the backbone for the sector to produce a net-zero workforce and is integral for all advancements that can be made. It is key that new methods of construction are developed by the workforce, however organisations are still nervous about investing in new technologies. Therefore, the UK Government must introduce investment incentives for organisations to invest and develop new technologies whilst developing a workforce skillset.
- Strong leadership is essential to produce a lean efficient workforce that can articulate the benefits of sustainability in a workforce. This will be essential to meet decarbonisation targets across the UK. New positions within organisations will become essential by employing sustainability officers to design, implement and monitor net-zero standards within businesses and meet Government legislation.
It is evident that organisations need to improve their aims and objectives to strive towards a net-zero workforce that helps the worlds broader sustainability approach. Whilst doing this, businesses will need to be innovative, creating new positions to manage sustainability within organisations, enhancing digitalisation within businesses and implementing modern methods of construction practices. Covid-19 has helped the sector become and increasingly efficient where organisational policies and procedures have been amended to allow employees to work remotely which has seen a huge increase of video technology and office closures, however this still isn’t enough. Small to Medium enterprises must be persuaded to invest in new technology. Other sectors are now working towards industry 5.0 where the construction sector is still aiming to achieve industry 4.0.
Using the research and conclusion, 5 I’s have been produced to offer recommendations that are viewed as essential to benefit the infrastructure sector:
- Organisations need to be brave and show trust in their employees to be innovative by developing new methods of working whilst becoming more efficient. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic businesses had to show innovation whilst enabling employees to work remotely and using increased amounts of technology, however, businesses must review other industries methods of improving technology and use this within the construction industry.
- Whilst the construction industry is reviewing other industries methods of working and understanding how key improvements have been made, it is imperative that organisations design implementation plans to ensure that improvements are made whilst measuring against progress for continual success.
- It is imperative that Industry 4.0 is at the forefront of the construction progression plans that will lead to Industry 5.0. All aspects must be considered and implemented within the sector to provide assistance to the skills shortages, pre-fabrication, programming and health and safety.
- Both government and the industry must incentivise smaller organisation to invest within digitalisation and methods of working to help the sector progress and become more efficient. Smaller organisations are essential to the industry, however and it is important that they have the same sustainable aims and objectives as larger organisations.
- It is important that organisations include employees in plans to produce net carbon zero workforces and help both individual businesses and the construction industry to become increasingly sustainable. Part of this will be employing leaders to help progress a lean efficient workforce, however, employees will be essential to working groups offering opinions and assistance.
19 February 2022