Construction Industry skills shortage is still an Issue
The Construction Industry Training Board’s Construction Skills Network Forecast predicts that employment within the construction sector will grow year on year until at least 2022. The projections suggest that we could see significant employment increases in the North West, South West and South East of England as well as double-digit growth in Wales.
Estimates also suggest that overall growth in the sector is likely to lead to 158,000 new construction-based jobs being created over the next five years. However, the current lack of skilled people raises doubts about whether these roles can be filled. It is therefore vital that more people enter the construction sector to meet these demands, especially as the UK government has set a target to build 300,000 new homes every year in the UK until 2020.
UK government has set a target to build 300,000 new homes every year in the UK until 2020
Specialist skills are needed in almost all new build, maintenance and refurbishment jobs and are therefore integral to the progression of projects. The shortage could cause repercussions for the industry. For example, low numbers of skilled personnel such as fire system installers, designers and engineers, who are key to ensuring that a building and its occupants are safe from fire, could cause delays in projects.
UK government launched a £22m Construction Skills Fund
A new government fund could help. In June this year, the UK government launched a £22m Construction Skills Fund, which aims to close the gap between training and working by enabling people to learn their trade on live construction sites. The 18-month scheme is being funded by the Department of Education and run by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
The fund will support:
- 20 on-site training hubs
- Work experience and placements for those looking to join the industry
- Entry pathways for the unemployed
- Entry pathways for those changing careers
Construction Industry Training Schemes
Other initiatives, such as BuildForce, are also in place to help people move into construction-based trades. BuildForce offers members of the armed forces the mentoring and training that they need to transfer into the building sector when they leave the service. It has so far seen 100 ex-armed forces personnel take on a new role. However, with 14,000 people leaving the forces every year, there is still significant potential if the industry is promoted to these highly qualified individuals.
With workloads increasing, the skills shortage is an issue critical for the future of the industry as a whole and the wider economy. It is therefore vital that more specialist skilled workers are entering the construction industry.
If initiatives such as the Construction Skills Fund and BuildForce are successful, this would ease the current strains on construction companies by ensuring that work demands can be met and delays to projects are prevented.
Following any major political change there is always a period of uncertainty, and as uncertainty means risk, this can often cause a slowdown in the construction industry as major players wait for the dust to settle.
While an agreement has now been put in place between the Conservative Party and the DUP, the recent Queen’s Speech confirmed that housing policy has been moved down the list of priorities for the minority Government now that Brexit negotiations have started in earnest. Recommendations put forward in February’s Housing White Paper will remain mainly non-legislative, overseen by the sixth Minister for Housing and Planning since 2010, Alok Sharma, as Gavin Barwell lost his seat during the election.
It is not an ideal situation for construction companies in need of calm waters and some drive from Whitehall, and it leaves the Government’s pledge to create 1 million new homes in England by 2020 looking an ever more distant target.
However, no matter what the political or economic climate, our focus at FDS is to provide best in class systems that achieve the highest standards of fire safety, while also considering our clients’ commercial objectives.
This customer-first approach has seen our portfolio of loyal clients continue to expand, and is the reason why many of the UK’s largest contractors and developers have selected FDS as their fire safety system provider of choice.
Here at Fire Design Solutions we aim to keep you abreast of the latest industry news. You can find more relevant news articles on thefdsblog.com, there we post general news items and look at topics that may affect our industry.