The CITB has published its strategic plan for 2021-25 with some gloomy assumptions about recovery of the UK economy from the government’s response to the virus.
Over the next 18 months overall construction recruitment needs will be ‘limited’, the CITB is predicting. In 2022-23 recruitment needs will be ‘half normal levels’ and still only 80% normal levels in 2025.
CITB says in its new strategic plan: “It’s currently impossible to offer a confident prediction on the economic outlook, given that in the near future a lot depends on how Covid-19 affects the restrictions we live under and the decisions that governments, businesses and households take.”
It therefore basis its plan on certain assumptions for the construction industry: output and employment will not be returning to pre-recession levels soon; productivity and margins will be further squeezed; and many employers will lack the confidence to spend money on training, in the short term at least.
It says: “Our preliminary Construction Skills Network forecasts suggest that construction employment will fall from 2.7 million in 2019 to 2.4 million in 2021 before recovering slowly back to about 2.7 million in 2025. However, there are big risks to these forecasts. Not only is the outlook uncertain but the coronavirus job retention scheme and self-employed income protection scheme means that it’s currently unclear how many people are working in construction.”
Given the unpredictable landscape, CITB will focus on a smaller number of priorities. As well as providing direct support to employers, CITB will seek to help make it easier to recruit workers into the industry and to access training.
Over the next couple of years the focus will be on re-joiners/experienced workers who have lost their jobs getting back into the industry. Thereafter, the emphasis will shift towards new entrants as time progresses and construction is starts to need fresh blood again.
Between 2021 and 2025, levy will be invested across Britain to:
• Support 28,000 taster experiences of construction and in the Go Construct website to promote construction careers
• Give 19,000 people onsite experience to prepare them to start work in construction through onsite hubs
• Create a new path between further education and employment available to 8,000 learners, including 1,600 apprenticeship starts as well as more learners starting jobs in construction.
CITB chief executive Sarah Beale said: “The recovery presents construction with big challenges but also major opportunities to do things differently and bring a wider range of new workers into the industry. Our Strategic Plan will support employers to realise these opportunities by helping fix the system that brings people into work and supporting them to do the training they need.
“We will focus on a small number of areas such as providing new entrants with information and experiences, creating a new pathway from further education into apprenticeships and a job, and boosting the numbers of apprentices completing their programmes. We will also help employers to train by addressing gaps in provision, making training accessible and targeting funding where it’s needed, including through the grants scheme.
“Over time, a greater share of this will support employers to modernise and raise productivity.”