400,000 construction workers per year are needed to meet skills ‘gulf’

Monday, November 20, 2017

The construction industry will have to recruit around 400,000 plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, quantity surveyors and other tradesmen and women will have to be taken on every year up to 2021 in order to meet the current skills gap.

That’s according to recent report by Arcadis, who claim a construction worker will need to be recruited every 77 seconds over the next few years to build the houses and infrastructure the UK needs.

It is thought the shortage of construction workers will hit housing developments in the South West particularly hard, as the enormous project to build the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant drains the region’s pool of tradespeople.

James Bryce of Arcadis, said the construction industry was facing a skills “gulf”, adding: “Systemic under-investment in the nation’s workforce has contributed to a reduction in UK productivity.

“Construction employment is already down 15 per cent on 2008 and, quite simply, if we don’t have the right people to build the homes and infrastructure we need, the UK is going to struggle to maintain its competitive position in the global economy.

“Overcoming a skills shortfall as vast as the one we now face can’t be achieved through education and technology alone.

“Of course, we need to bring more new talent into the industry but construction will also need to look at those currently working in other industries and dramatically improve its efficiency.”

A Communities and Local Government Department spokesman said: “We’ve got this country building again, with nearly 900,000 homes delivered since 2010, but to build the homes this country needs we need an industry with the right skills.

“Our housing white paper sets out new measures to support training in the construction industry, and we’re doubling investment in apprenticeships to £2.5 billion by 2020.”

Comment: The importance of ‘skilling up’ apprentices in all areas of our business to meet future demand has never been greater, says Ralph Hawkins, Managing Director of Taylor Wimpey Bristol.

“The continued need to build more new homes for local people means the number of skilled people required to do this work is also increasing – and housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey are playing a vital role in trying to ensure that demand doesn’t outstrip supply.

Apprenticeships are a key way we can enable the workforce of today to pass on its skills and experience to the tradespeople and professionals of tomorrow.

Our apprenticeship scheme is highly successful because it’s seen by young people as a worthwhile route to gaining skills which open doors for them, giving them opportunities in their careers that otherwise may not have been available.

We’re always keen to spread the word about the benefits of our apprenticeships – sponsoring the South West Skills Show 2016, and hosting the Bath and Bristol Apprentice Fair at our Somerdale development last year.

There really is something for a very wide cross-section of candidates with a diverse range of skills and aptitudes, with a choice of different schemes on offer from trade and site manager apprenticeships to management trainee programmes .

Once our apprentices and trainees are qualified, the opportunities don’t end there.

Many of our supply chain companies are run today by individuals who started as trade apprentices and are now successful entrepreneurs in their own right.”

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