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Construction industry's lack of skilled workers poses serious threat to UK housebuilding plans31st January 2014

Construction industry's lack of skilled workers could impact on housebuilding plansConstruction industry body CITB has warned that a lack of young talent coming into the construction sector could threaten the Government's hopes for a resurgence of housebuilding in the UK. With house-building levels currently at around 100,000 a year, CITB has suggested this could leave firms struggling to fill more than 62,000 jobs.

A CITB study found that 42 per cent of construction firms are finding it difficult to recruit workers with the right skills. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) of employers said that a skills gap had hampered their growth over the past two years, while over a tenth had lost out on work due to their competitors having a more skilled workforce.

Robert Simonds of CPBigwood, which looks after around 25,000 properties across the country and works with house builders to manage new developments, said developers were struggling to find the tradesmen to build the houses for which they have planning consent.

“This is the message borne out in my conversations with developer clients across the Midlands.

“It is a very serious situation especially given that, despite Government entreaties, we are nowhere near to meeting the demand for new homes.”

It is generally reckoned that the UK’s housing requirements is on average around 240,000-245,000 a year.

Mr Simonds who is a partner in the Residential Service Charge department at CPBigwood said: “With construction very hard hit following the 2007/8 financial crash, for many firms it has been a battle for survival, with jobs cut rather than created.

“This looks as if it is going to come home to roost now confidence is restored and the economy is moving forward. There needs to be a huge push to address both the skills shortage in construction and the requirement for new talent. The CITB has been warning of a skills time bomb and this is not over-stating the position.

“The industry must spark the imagination of young people and highlight how construction is a high-tech, world class industry with outstanding career prospects. We have to do something about the problem and quickly. Otherwise we will never get close to meeting our housing and other construction needs.

“At CPBigwood we take on apprentices and actively encourage all our staff to develop and expand their skill levels. The whole construction industry needs to develop a pro-active approach – everyone ought to take skills seriously and do their bit.”

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