Skills Shortages: has the UK construction industry been let down by its leaders and professional institutions?

25 April by Steven Boxall


Guest Blog by Steven Boxall, Regeneration and Sustainable Communities Consultant, Regeneration X
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Over the last month or so I keep seeing reports from various organisations which talk about the immediate and future shortage of skilled labour in the UK’s construction sector.

I am not going to summarise the various reports but will just highlight the following:

 We have yet to recover fully the 400,000 construction jobs which were lost in the Great Recession.

To meet the demand implied from the UK Government’s policies and announcements, more than 230,000 new recruits will be needed into the industry between 2016-20.

This doesn’t take into account the 700,000 existing workers who are due to retire over the next 10 years.

A report from the RICS warned that the skills shortage in the construction industry could threaten 27,000 projects a year by 2019, and that most surveying firms were having recruitment problems because of a lack of suitability qualified candidates.

These skills shortages include skilled trades and crafts, as well as in the various professions.

On top of this we have seen reports about wide-spread defects and sub-standard work in our new buildings (for example, the schools which have fallen down in Scotland; and one of the large house builders having to set aside millions of £s to rectify defects). A survey from The National House Building Council (NHBC) showed that 98% of new-home buyers who responded reported defects and a quarter of those had identified more than 16.

Taken together, I can’t help thinking that this highlights just how much the UK construction industry has been failed by its leaders and professional institutions over the last 20 to 30 years years.