Skills shortages affecting building industry, warns FMB

Published:  11 July, 2014

Skills shortages in the building industry are affecting the economic recovery, according to a recent survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The results of FMB's State of Trade Survey for the second quarter of 2014 show more than a third of construction small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to recruit enough bricklayers for their workload. Plasterers are almost as difficult to come by with 27% of firms saying they are having difficulty finding these skilled tradesmen.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: "The results act as a stark warning that the government must not take the recovery in the construction sector for granted. Although this snapshot of small construction firms marks the fifth consecutive quarter of positive results, if we don't have enough of the right people to complete the work, private and public projects could be stalled across the board."

Mr Berry concluded: "Looking ahead, construction SMEs are still hugely concerned about the impact of the government’s apprenticeship funding reforms. If they are implemented as proposed, most micro-businesses, which currently train two-thirds of all construction apprentices, are likely to stop hiring apprentices altogether.

"CITB forecast that 182,000 new UK jobs are expected to be created in the construction industry by 2018 so this is not the time to jeopardise the ability of small firms to continue their proud history of training apprentices. Not only would this be disastrous for the construction sector itself and the hundreds of thousands of young people who are currently seeking employment, it would also be disastrous for the wider economy which is largely relying on construction and housing to drive the recovery."

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