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Construction needs more than 223,000 jobs by 2019

The UK construction industry will need an additional 223,450 jobs over the next five years to handle expected output growth to 2019, according to new research.

According to Construction News, it will need to recruit an average of 44,690 people each year between now and 2019 to meet demand and deliver average annual output growth of 2.9 per cent, according to the latest Construction Skills Network report from Experian and the CITB.

The marks an increase from the annual recruitment of 36,400 projected in 2014 and 29,050 in 2013.

The research also forecasts output and employment growth in all areas of the UK for the first time since 2008.

Annual average output growth between 2015 and 2019 is expected to be greatest in Wales (5.9 per cent), followed by Greater London (4.2 per cent) and the South-west (3.8 per cent).

Click on map to enlarge

CITB director of policy and strategic planning Steve Radley told Construction News some regions of the UK could face skills shortages, but that it was “not entirely straightforward to pin down and it will partly depend on the sequencing of the projects”.

“If things go ahead as planned, the extent of the squeeze is predictable and manageable, but if some of the projects come together at the same time then I think there could be problems.”

He added that big infrastructure projects would be delivered irrespective of the squeeze on the workforce, but their potential impact on other construction projects in the same region was concerning.

“The South-west and Wales will face challenges, but it isn’t a case of whether they will get enough skilled people to work on those [new nuclear] projects – they will be fine one way or another.

“But what knock-on impact does it have on employers working on other construction projects in those regions, and will they face significant cost inflation as a result?”

Total construction employment in the UK is projected to reach 2.74m by 2019, still slightly below the 2008 peak of 2.86m.

Across the UK, all construction occupations are expected to experience employment growth over the five years to 2019.

The most serious shortages are expected to be in traditional trades, including wood trades and interior fit-out, which is predicted to need 4,260 new recruits each year to 2019.

Painters and decorators are expected to have an annual recruitment requirement of 3,520 and bricklayers are set to need an additional 3,070 people each year to keep up with demand.

Mr Radley said the need for bricklayers and traditional trades came despite the use of modern methods of construction and an increase in offsite manufacturing, which typically requires less labour.

He said the research showed “a gradual shift” towards employment being affected by modern methods, rather than “explosive growth” in that area.

Employment growth will be strongest for professional occupations, including surveyors and architects, with a 2.3 per cent increase annually to 2019.

However, the annual recruitment requirement for these occupations is relatively low, at 440 and 540 respectively.

In most regions, it was judged that people were already available to perform surveying and architectural roles, a CITB spokesman said.

Mr Radley added that growth was no longer dependent on housing, but that infrastructure, retail and leisure were also contributing increased construction employment.

“Although it feels as though some of the more immediate pressures might be in the form of traditional skills, we’ve got more modern methods of construction kicking in and actually faster growth in the professional and managerial areas than the traditional skills,” he said.

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