Construction sees comeback

Published:  28 January, 2015

A resurgence of regional and national growth is driving a strong construction comeback, according to research released yesterday by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

CITB’s latest industry forecast, the Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, predicts an increase of over 8,000 jobs per year on last year’s forecast with the annual demand for workers increasing to 44,690. The research also suggests that for the first time since the downturn, investment boosts in housing, leisure and infrastructure will deliver growth in every region, casting aside perceptions of a recovery driven only by the South East.

The annual forecast shows that:

  • The UK’s private housing sector is set to continue growing at a rate of 4.6% over the forecast period to 2019, with the commercial sector set to grow at the same rate

  • A resurgence of growth and employment in the north of England has the potential to create an economic power base in the region, with the North West set to grow by 2.5%, the North East by 2.3%, and Yorkshire and Humber by 2.3% annually, over the forecast period

  • The biggest regional growth will be seen in Wales, which is predicted to grow by almost 6% year-on-year and create as many as 5,320 jobs in the next five years

  • Scotland is expected to see a drop in growth from 2% to 1.1% over the next five years, as a result of completed infrastructure projects associated with the re-development of the M8 and the Commonwealth Games, but infrastructure investment remains at historic levels.

“Our CSN forecast shows that construction is experiencing a major comeback, with a sustained period of growth set to make a positive impact on the wider economy,” said Steve Radley, CITB’s director of policy and strategic planning. “Leisure, infrastructure and housing are all driving growth, but this brings with it new challenges in meeting skills demand.

“Employers will need to pull every lever available to them to meet the skills challenge they face but government can play a vital role in giving them the confidence to invest in training for the long-term. CITB is already identifying future skills needs and working with government and industry on the talent pipeline. But to help it plan ahead, industry needs a clear commitment from all political parties in the run-up to the General Election that infrastructure projects will be delivered on time and to plan in the next parliament.

Government can also help employers to develop the next generation of workers by sending out a clear signal that it will make it as simple as possible for companies of all sizes to invest in apprenticeships.”

CITB is calling for:

  • Continued commitment from all parties to deliver the National Infrastructure Plan

  • Renewed focus on improving the quality and delivery of careers advice in schools to attract the next generation of construction workers

  • Government investment in the energy efficiency and retrofit market, given the anticipated future skills demand and the UK’s pressing environmental targets

  • Industry and government to back CITB’s industry-wide campaign to create clear and accessible pathways into construction for people from all backgrounds.

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