Ministers have today (1 February 2016) called upon the construction industry to remove barriers to get more young people to consider careers in construction and develop an ambitious action plan to address the skills pressures and other constraints that are limiting housebuilding and infrastructure development.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis and Skills Minister Nick Boles want the construction industry to look at whether current business models are holding back the industry from developing the skills it needs – and to consider new models of construction such as offsite manufacturing.
The Construction Leadership Council has been called upon to review what skills the construction industry need to provide the homes the nation needs.
The Council has asked Mark Farmer, of real estate and construction consultancy Cast, to identify actions that will help bring more workers to the industry.
Views are being sought on how to best train a workforce which has a high level of self-employment and bring about greater use of off-site construction. The review will also look at how the industry can introduce measures that encourage more investment and new ways of working.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
The number of new homes is up 25% in the last year – and this is further proof we’ve got the country building again and delivering the homes the nation wants.
This means thousands of jobs are now up for grabs and we’re determined to make sure that there are enough skilled workers to get the job done.
Construction offers an exciting and rewarding career and we need to build a new generation of home grown talented, ambitious and highly skilled construction workers.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said:
The government is committed to getting Britain building. We are investing in measures to cut red tape and increase the number of young people doing apprenticeships and traineeships to ensure we have a pipeline of skilled workers.
As leaders in the industry, the Council is best placed to advise on how to boost productivity in the sector and build the houses and infrastructure our nation needs.
Mark Farmer, chief executive officer at Cast, said:
I’m delighted to be asked to lead this review. The construction industry’s skills shortfall has been growing progressively and its ageing workforce now means affirmative action needs to be taken to avoid more acute issues in the future.
A healthy and robust construction sector is vital to underpinning the government’s commitment to delivering critical new housing and infrastructure projects. It will also ensure the unrivalled economic multiplier effect related to construction activity continues to play its part within the wider UK economy.
The industry needs to seize the opportunity to celebrate the vital contribution it makes and, in partnership with government and other key stakeholders, ensure it overcomes the current barriers to fulfilling its potential.
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 the number of new homes is up 25% in the last year.
New research from the Home Builders Federation shows that over 100,000 new construction jobs were created in England alone in the last year – the review will look at how we can go further to ensure young Brits leaving school or those looking for a career change will see building as a viable and exciting career.
Housebuilding is at the heart of the government’s long-term economic plan with plans to build 275,000 new affordable homes during this Parliament.
The housebuilding process requires a wider range of different people – as well as traditional on site trade jobs, there are a number of roles such as land buyers, accountants, engineers, sales and marketing staff.
The Construction Leadership Council is publishing questions for consultation and is inviting comments by 29 February 2016.
See the consultation seeking industry views on these issues and constraints.
Reports such as Mark Farmer’s “People and Money” report identified the training environment as a complex area for the construction sector due to very high levels of self-employment and the fragmentation of the supply chain; the volume house-builder model often provides weak long-term incentives for subcontractors to invest in training.
The Construction Leadership Council was created in 2013 to work between industry and government to identify and deliver actions to improve efficiency, skills and growth in UK construction.
The Home Builders Federation published its report ‘Building Communities, Boosting Employment’ in January 2016.
Mark Farmer is a former head of residential at Arcadis.