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Last updated: 08.06.17

Construction industry likely to see immediate shortage of skills

Over the next five years, there is predicted to be a 1.7 per cent growth in construction output levels. However, according to the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) State of Trade Report, the total employment net balance in the UK construction sector has fallen by six per cent in 12 months.

Of the respondents surveyed for the report, a mere 21 per cent predicted rising staffing levels in the coming quarter, while 14 per cent forecast employment cuts. When coupled, these figures paint a worrying picture of the critical shortage of skills facing the construction industry in the very near future.

According to, in order to address this issue head on, trade organisations must take full responsibility for attracting and training more construction professionals.

Every year, the construction industry generates £90 billion towards the British economy and is responsible for employing over 2.93 million professionals in the UK while contributing considerably to the country’s total output.

Increasing housing and infrastructure projects means that this output will rise, and with it will come a demand for skilled construction professionals.

Yet the current situation will only serve to widen the gap between the number of skilled professionals needed to meet objectives and the number of qualified candidates actually available in the market. A failure to meet this demand will cause issues for employers and recruiters, argues the construction website.

But this skills gap isn’t a new problem. In 2008, the financial crisis meant banks were reluctant to grant loans for construction projects, which resulted in many construction workers leaving the industry, while graduate and apprenticeship programmes were cut.

Recent research from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has also revealed that skills shortages are making it difficult for the construction sector to grow, stating that while workloads increase, the shortage of skilled workers is holding up the sector.

Jeff Matsu, RICS senior economist said: “The mood music in the construction sector has improved in line with the better tone to macro data more generally. However the survey does highlight some key challenges that need to be addressed if government’s ambitious plans for housing and infrastructure, in particular, are to be met.

“Access to finance, alongside planning and skill shortages, both quality and quantity, remain big obstacles to delivery and though some plans are in place to address these issues, it remains to be seen whether they are sufficient to make a meaningful impact.”


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