Recruitment pinch points ahead as more than a quarter of million extra workers needed by 2026

Recruitment pinch points ahead as more than a quarter of million extra workers needed by 2026

The UK construction sector is set to experience recruitment pinch points over the next five years as more than a quarter of a million additional workers will be needed to meet growing demand in the industry, the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has found.

According to the report, all major sectors are expected to experience increasing recruitment demands as demand for construction increases, but the most affected sectors are expected to be private housing, infrastructure and repair and maintenance.

The report has found:

  • Private housing output is forecasted to exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2023, having seen strong growth since the pandemic.
  • Infrastructure: saw the shallowest fall in output (5%) of any of the new work sectors in 2020 The government views investment in major infrastructure projects and programmes of work as key in delivering the post-pandemic economic recovery along with levelling-up and future energy security.
  • Repair and maintenance: Growth in repair and maintenance is expected to be driven in part by the UK Government’s £9.2bn commitment to increase the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals, which includes funding to improve energy efficiency of social housing and grants for private home improvements.

With job vacancies at a record high, and unemployment at its lowest level in 50 years, the report forecasts that recruitment and developing a highly-skilled workforce will be the biggest challenge construction will face over the next five years.

If projected growth is met, construction employment will reach a high of nearly 2.78 million workers by 2026, with the largest increases in annual demand will be for occupations such as carpenters, joiners and construction managers, along with a range of technical roles. These include electronics technicians, civil engineering technicians, estimators and valuers, as well as office-based support staff.

This comes as CITB urges industry and government to come together in refreshing the way the industry hires and trains, making construction an attractive place for everyone to work.

CITB CEO Tim Balcon, said: “Construction is vital in supporting the backbone of the UK economy. These future growth projections are encouraging after the stalling effects of the pandemic. However, this is set against a current backdrop of higher energy costs, material shortages, and associated price inflation that is currently hitting companies across the sector.

“The has a lot to offer, and there is so much potential to engage in a career that sees you enter the industry as an apprentice and leave it as the CEO. The industry needs to use its many strengths to attract and retain top talent in a competitive recruitment landscape

“Training routes into the industry will be a focus for us and we have to attract and retain those that are under-represented – in particular women and those from ethnic minorities. It will be a major task, but the industry needs to evolve and reach its untapped potential for the national economy and our competitiveness on a global scale.”

In CITB’s Business Plan, launched last month, three core challenges are set out. These challenges, which reflect the views of employers and a wide variety of stakeholders, are:

  • Responding to the skills demands
  • Developing the capacity and capability of construction training provision
  • Addressing future skills needs.

The plan shows how CITB will invest over £233m across Britain to support construction throughout 2022/23.

CITB will create more accessible routes into construction, focus on apprenticeships and on-site experience, and roll out occupational traineeships in Further Education.

This year, a total of £110m in training grants reaching 14,000 businesses is available. This includes £60.3m in direct grants to employers who take on apprentices, supporting the industry to address its current and future need for a skilled workforce.

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