Since 2016 FIS has surveyed its membership on the skills and workforce changes in its FIS Training Needs Analysis (TNA). FIS Sector Skills Engagement Manager Amanda Scott reports on why this work is needed and key findings to date.

ATTACKING the skills gap is one of the core pillars of FIS activity (built around the FIS Competency Framework). Within this we look at both who and how we attract and induct individuals into our workforce and how we address any competency issues within the existing workforce.

Responses form a baseline and provide FIS with the evidence necessary to support and develop funding streams, isolate gaps and priorities, allocate key resources and better support members.

Key findings from 2019
Through the TNA we get some good insight into the age profile of our workforce. In 2019, 7% of workers were aged between 16-24 years with apprentices accounting for around 3% of the total.

Apprenticeships are not the only way that we can attract young people into the sector but are often the go-to headliner when we look at engaging young people. Apprenticeship levy payers only account for 30% of the survey group. However encouragingly 51% of the respondents currently employed at least one apprentice. Work is ongoing to increase this
level and FIS supported the development of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship for Interior Systems Installer, which has now been approved and provides fresh opportunity to revisit this option for employers. The need for more commercial design and surveying entrants is also recognised and FIS is engaged in T Level developments that can also support this need.

At the other end of the spectrum, 37.5% of our work force are aged 40 and above. There is a distinct difference between retirement ages for those working in qualified trade operations tending to retire earlier than those in commercial, design and surveying operations and management.

The sector remains heavily reliant on the labour-only subcontractor model and this was increasing in 2019. The LOSC workforce share increased by 6.2% to 70.6%. This increase has set the balance back to our 2017 findings. In 2018 we
reported an increase in the PAYE workforce, but economic uncertainty, potential PAYE ringfencing, an unstable exchange rate and IR35 implications have all contributed to the sector, resorting to a model of where for every 10 people employed in our sector, seven are employed on an LOSC basis.

The migrant workforce distribution has remained fairly steady at 46.2% of the total workforce. This percentage is broken down to those from the EU at 86.1% with workers from Poland and Romania making up the large proportion of this share. Non-EU countries at 13.9% have fallen in recent years. This can be attributed in part to the environment created by Brexit, currency fluctuations and the potential attractiveness of other EU nations such as Germany.

In the TNA18 and 19 we looked more into the inclusivity of the membership and focused in the first instance on the distribution of men and women in our workforce. Women in the finishes and interiors sector remain at 13% – 1% above the current construction industry average. The current findings indicate that 48% of women are operating in design and surveying, qualified trade operations, technical works, assessment, site and construction management and apprenticeships.

Those in non-business development roles have increased by 1.5% showing marginal gains in those found on site over the past year. While there has been a rise in the number of companies reporting that 90-100% of their workforce are fully VQ qualified, more than 56% of members are outside of this target. Certainly there is improvement here but the rate of change underpins wider concern related to proportion of CSCS blue card and growth in the uptake of CSCS green labourer cards.

Encouragingly, 67% of members are engaged in training plan creation and CITB training grant application awards are at 64%, showing a 9% growth in both areas from TNA18 to 19.

The questionnaire for TNA20 was released and distributed on 2 January 2020, the deadline for completion is Friday 28 February. The findings are due for release in March 2020.

The link to the Training Needs Analysis can be found on the homepage of the FIS website ( and can be accessed across all mobile devices. For any completion assistance or for anyone wishing to take part in TNA discussions contact amandascott@thefisorg or any member of the FIS.