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Skills shortage crisis for the construction sector

The construction sector is facing a skills shortage, with 66 per cent of industry professionals seeing this as the biggest barrier to future growth*. The latest employment forecasts by the Chartered Industry of Building (CIOB) predict that the industry will need to find almost 224,000 new recruits by 2019 to keep up with demand.

Despite the slowdown in the second quarter of 2016, caused by uncertainty over the EU referendum, a skills shortage is already a key issue for many employers in the construction sector. In a recent report by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) 57 per cent of those surveyed had trouble recruiting quantity surveyors and 59 per cent had difficulties recruiting bricklayers. With almost 17,000 managers expected to be needed by 2020, a key challenge for the sector will be recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce.


22,496 young people began their career in construction last year as apprentices, according to figures released by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in March. This represents a 12 percent increase, reaching a six-year high. An apprenticeship will usually involve a combination of studying at college and working on-site for between two and three years. Research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) found that 98 per cent of SME construction owners value an apprenticeship over a degree when looking for new staff.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB said, “Our research demonstrates that a construction apprenticeship is the perfect springboard for a successful and rewarding career, with more than half of construction SMEs being run by people who started out as an apprentice.”

Women in construction

Women make up just 11 per cent of the construction workforce, and less than 1 per cent of employees working on-site. Attracting more women into construction could help solve the skills shortage.

The RICS survey found that 62 per cent of respondents thought the construction sector needed to do more to “boost positive culture around women”, whilst 61% agreed that promoting the gender diversity that does exist within the industry would help attract more women.

Staff retention

19 per cent of construction workers are due to retire in the next five to ten years and 57 per cent of those working in the sector believe it is “very important to retain ageing workers”. However, this desire to retain older employees is not reflected by workplace culture, with a lack of flexible working, career reviews or retirement planning.

“Employers should look to take additional steps to overcome the skills shortage by reaching out to older workers,” said Bridget Bartlett, Deputy CEO of the CIOB.

Offering retraining or part time working could help keep more people working in the construction sector for longer, and retain valuable skills.




*Source: RICS

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