New Data Reveals that more Young People are pursuing Health and Safety Qualifications- RRC International

New data reveals a rising trend among young individuals pursuing health and safety qualifications, although leading health and safety experts, RRC International, warn that a skills gap could undermine this progress. Over the past five years, there has been a consistent increase in the number of students under 25 enrolling in general health and safety courses, with young people now constituting 6% of RRC’s student body, compared to just 1% in 2019.

Similarly, the age bracket of 26-35-year-olds now represents nearly a third of those undertaking courses with RRC (29%), up from one-fifth (21%) in 2019.

Richard Stockley (image courtesy of LinkedIn)

Richard Stockley, Managing Director of RRC, observes, “Policy and education have significantly enhanced workplace safety in the UK. Over the 50 years since the enactment of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974, the incidence of non-fatal injuries has consistently decreased, even in sectors like construction.

“With such a consistent trend, one could confidently argue that each new generation entering the workforce since 1974 has been the safest up to that point. This aligns with our data, showing millennials and Gen Z pursuing more safety qualifications than previous generations at the same age.

“However, this era of improving workplace safety may be at risk. While interest in health and safety qualifications continues to grow among young people, the future workplace may be less safe for Gen Alpha workers if we fail to address the skills gap.”

The UK industry has long grappled with a growing skills shortage. For instance, the construction sector is projected to face a shortfall of 225,000 workers by 2027.

Stockley adds, “A shortage of skilled workers in industries dealing with hazardous materials, heavy machinery, and equipment inherently poses health and safety risks. If a job requires operating a forklift, but there’s a lack of experienced staff, the risk of accidents and injuries rises. Compliance also becomes more challenging, as the skills shortage extends to supervisory roles.”

HSE data indicates that the impact of the skills shortage may already be felt in workplace safety, with the rate of non-fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in the UK rising from 185 to 225 between 2020/21 and 2021/22, marking the first increase since 2003.

A similar trend was observed in non-fatal injuries within the construction sector, increasing from 260 to 329 during the same period, marking the first increase in nearly two decades.

Alarmingly, a recent survey commissioned by Deconstruction found that 77% of 18-24-year-olds stated they would not consider a career in the construction industry, with a quarter perceiving it as unsafe.

Stockley concludes, “Young individuals show increasing concern for health and safety, but the skills shortage jeopardizes workplace safety, particularly in high-risk industries like construction. This poses a potential compounding effect, where safety-conscious young people are less inclined to pursue careers in construction, exacerbating the skills shortage.

“The solution is not straightforward; the skills gap remains a persistent challenge. Nevertheless, policy initiatives and enthusiasm may help maintain safety in construction and similar sectors. Gen Alpha could potentially benefit from the safest working environment yet, thanks to a stricter health and safety culture in the UK, driven by the increasing number of young people pursuing health and safety careers.”

Since RRC’s establishment in 1928, RRC International, better known to many as The Rapid Results College Ltd, has helped millions of individuals all over the world achieve professional, educational and vocational qualifications.

Today, RRC is the UK’s leading international provider of health & safety and environmental management qualification training.

  • Training Experts – RRC has over 90 years of experience in delivering high quality professional training, with a clear focus on our customers’ needs and the quality of what we do.
  • International Reach – RRC has established training centres in the UK, Dubai, Georgia and Tunisia, along with a global network of partners expanding the reach of RRC’s training and consultancy services.
  • Helping Business Improve HSE Performance – The expertise in HSE developed over the last 45 years of our history also allows us to work with organisations, developing and delivering innovative bespoke training solutions that help improve our customers’ HSE performance.