The European construction sector is ready for new talent and more gender diversity

With buildings representing about 36% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, it is clear that massive efforts are needed to decarbonise our building stock in time to reach climate neutrality by 2050. What we see, however, is that the main potential bottlenecks are linked to the availability of qualified workforce. EuropeOn has been active on this issue by organising exchanges and roundtables between our members, EU policymakers and fellow construction value chain stakeholders to mainstream best practices and identify common issues. One of the first issues EuropeOn members discussed is the image of the sector, which can be seen as the first steppingstone to securing the needed workforce (more info here).

However, the need for qualified workers is a trend that is affecting the whole construction sector. All actors in this value chain will need to step up to reach the EU’s climate objectives, which will bring new constraints at every step of the construction process.

The Construction 2050 Alliance, a broad coalition of construction stakeholders at EU level of which EuropeOn is a member, held an event on attracting new talent to the sector on the 1st of July (you can access the recording of the event here). Featuring many presentations from a varied panel of speakers, this event made it clear that the construction sector is evolving fast along with the digital and energy transitions. With increased focus on smart and green construction, this is the time for youth and new talent to join this thriving sector that will be a major contributor to climate neutrality. And with the current recovery spending in many cases directed to energy renovations, there will certainly be any new jobs and opportunities for newcomers.

For instance, the ‘Boss Ladies” project, to which EuropeOn member Tekniq Arbejdsgiverne is contributing, was presented to show how it is possible to increase the share of women in the construction sector and introduce some much needed gender diversity in this male-dominated environment. This entails changes on the individual level aimed at the (prospective) construction workers themselves to make them familiar with the opportunities that this sector can offer to all women. But also structural changes that need to be enacted by institutions and labour authorities to make the sector and its educational pathways more appealing and accessible to young women.

The Construction 2050 Alliance has also voiced some of its key asks to policymakers:

  • Ensure that the “Reskill and upskill” flagship is respected in the National Recovery Plans that the Member States will need to implement.
  • Ensure that public money that will be made available in the context of the Renovation Wave and the Recovery packages should go towards the creation of quality jobs.
  • Provide tailored financial and technical support to boost green and digital skills and deliver the objectives of the EU Green Deal and Renovation Wave (e.g. use of Digital Innovation Hubs also for skills).
  • Carry out outreach targeted initiatives for the construction ecosystem to promote its attractiveness among youngsters, women, migrants and professionals coming from other sectors with relevant skills for new construction activities.