Tens of thousands of new housebuilding jobs and apprenticeships will be up for grabs for years to come under a deal struck today (5 November 2014) between ministers and the industry.
Government-led efforts have got Britain building – in the last year alone planning permission has been granted on 230,000 new homes and private housebuilding starts are at their highest for 7 years.
But leading housebuilders have made clear that a lack of skilled labour is one of the key problems facing their industry, and that they need a range of building skills as well as site managers, surveyors, planners and designers.
Today, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis hosted a top-level summit with Skills Minister Nick Boles and the Home Builders Federation, and agreed a plan to ensure this continues and that more Brits are able to take up the opportunities available.
Building future skills
The 2008 housing crash devastated the industry, and led to the loss of a quarter of a million construction jobs.
But the housing market has now turned a corner, with government investment returning builders to sites across the country and construction companies now recruiting at their fastest rate since 1997.
Today’s plan will ensure young Brits leaving school or our Armed Forces benefit from this turn-around and see building as a viable and exciting career – but it will also help former builders to consider a return to the industry.
Ministers and the housebuilding industry have agreed that:
- the housebuilding industry will recruit tens of thousands of new workers in the coming years – including thousands of apprentices, graduates and ex-military personnel - they will also increase the numbers of school-leavers joining the industry
- the government and housebuilding industry would work together to improve the image of housebuilding with young people – including by enabling industry representatives to work with schools to explain the range of opportunities available
- the industry will work more closely with the Military to help increase the numbers of former members of the Armed Forces to move into housebuilding – and to look at how more people who lost their jobs in the 2008 housing crash to rejoin the industry
- the government and housebuilding industry will work together to ensure apprenticeships and training standards meet the needs of the modern building industry – including taking into account new methods such as off-site construction
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
Our efforts have got Britain building over the past 4 years, creating thousands of jobs across the country.
I want to make sure we maintain this momentum, and ensure British workers – whether those leaving school, leaving our Armed Forces or considering a return to the industry – benefit from the new career opportunities available.
Today’s deal with the housebuilders will create tens of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships on sites across the country, so we can nurture this home-grown talent for years to come.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said:
Government has an important role to play in supporting the industry to develop the next generation of housebuilders – from management skills, to traditional trades, to modern building techniques.
Through top quality employer-designed apprenticeships and industry-led training programmes, we want to help firms across the country to develop and invest in home-grown talent and get the skills they need to succeed.
Stewart Baseley, Executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said:
The industry is committed to working with government to ensure more of our brightest and most talented young people become the house builders of the future and the actions we have agreed today will help us achieve that.
In the coming years we need to be building more of what are the best designed, most energy efficient homes in the world – and we need thousands of our brightest and most ambitious young people to help us deliver.
In return, our industry has a wide range of fantastic opportunities for young people, with career paths both on sites and in the office ranging from bricklaying to engineering, commercial management and design. Our young people develop skills for life, earn whilst they learn, and at the end of every day go home knowing they have achieved something fantastic that is contributing positively to the nation’s future.
Construction contributes some £90 billion to the UK economy, and some developers are already increasing the numbers of jobs and apprenticeships they offer, including:
- Persimmon, which has a dedicated team to help former soldiers start a new career in construction
- Redrow, who have plans to start a new National Veterans’ Training Initiative
- Crest Nicholson, who each year add up to 60 new apprentices onto their payroll
- Countryside, who have increased their staff numbers by a fifth over the past year
- Barratt Developments, who are expanding their recruitment programme over the next 3 years for graduates, apprentices and trainees to 1,100 – in addition to 600 apprentices recruited over this and last year
- Taylor Wimpey, who have doubled their intake across entry level trainee programmes in the last year, including trade and site apprenticeships, management trainees and graduates and plan to continue to expand these over the next 3 years
In August 2014 Housebuilder magazine published the findings of their 2014 SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis ‘Skills shortages threaten industry growth’. (To view this article you will need to register with the website).
In one of the clearest trends in the industry, the challenge of labour and management shortages has rocketed to the top of the list of threats facing housebuilders.
The Home Building Skills Research Report 2013 highlighted a lack of new entrants to the industry and researched showed:
…there are now serious and widely held concerns about the current shortage of skilled people in UK home building, and increasing alarm about the availability of people with the right level of skills and knowledge…