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The skills shortage is a critical issue for the UK construction sector. Whether it’s drastically increasing the number of homes we build or to deliver the world class infrastructure our economy depends on, access to high standard construction skills is critical to our ambitions.
This problem has deep roots, from a cyclical market causing insecure work prospects to a sector which is risk averse. In addition, the image of the industry limits our access to the best talent from all parts of society, and the prevailing business model is not conducive towards skills development.
Although, as an industry we are working with government to ensure a pipeline of talent entering the profession, numbers entering nowhere near match the 700,000 who are set to retire in the next 10 years. Add to this an increased workload due to house building targets and ambitious infrastructure projects – the skills crisis comes into focus.
Brexit further complicates the skills problem by potentially taking away access to hundreds of thousands of skilled European migrants. Developing the home-grown talent will take time. In the meantime, access to foreign workers is critical to current ambitions.
Increasing productivity and introducing new, more efficient construction methods, such as offsite construction and Building Information Modelling (BIM) will play a key part in making the best of what we have. New processes will allow us to take advantage of alternative skills in manufacturing and design, broadening our skills base, as well as delivering projects in a less skills intensive way. However, this will only soften the impact of the skills shortage, not solve it.
It is with that in mind that we make the following recommendations to government to address the problems:
Although the challenges are tough, the potential reward, for adequately resourcing a key sector in our economy, is to make us a global leader in the field of technical construction expertise. This would provide us with a valuable resource to trade with the world, at a time when we are seeking to reposition ourselves on the global political and economic stage.
Find out more and download the report
As the UK faces the polls ICE is playing its role in the election debate and in constant dialogue with major political parties, opinion formers, policy-makers and the media to push for continued investment in infrastructure.
We have published a 5 point Manifesto for Infrastructure that solidifies many of our recent reports and thinking – reinforcing ICE’s role as the voice of infrastructure.
Read the ICE manifesto