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House-builders address skills shortage

6 Aug 13 With the house-building sector turning from an industry that lays people off to one that wants to take them on, industry organisations are turning their focus to training and recruitment.

Although there are 40% fewer people employed in the house-building industry today than there were five years ago, the sector has now returned to growth mode.

A survey of training activity in the house-building industry has found that 50% of builders and 80% of housing associations are taking on apprentices in 2013.

The report, published by the Home Builders Federation (HBF), National House Building Council (NHBC), Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the Zero Carbon Hub also found:

  • 33% of home building companies want to spend more on training
  • All home builders provide some form of training to subcontractors onsite and more than 25% are spending more on training than five years ago
  • 45% of the home building industry believe more needs to be done to ensure the sector has the right skills in place when industry returns to growth
  • Almost half of the home building sector has been given some form of training in the last 12 months and there is suport for the view that a ‘mastercraftsmen’ qualification to go past NVQ3 is required.

NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said: “Everyone has known for some time about the ageing workforce and the impact of the recession on our industry’s ability to attract and retain skilled workers. As the home building industry shows the first signs of growth after several years, we are now hearing increasing alarm about the availability of the right people with the right skills to allow us to maximise these opportunities for growth.”

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HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley added: “The past few years have been the most difficult most people in our industry can remember. The industry has had to scale itself back to meet the level of demand and lost a lot of people. But with a new planning system in place and the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme addressing the constraint on buyers, optimism is increasing. As it has done after previous downturns, the industry is now looking to step up and ensure it develops the capacity to build more homes. It is vital we plan now to ensure we have the skills to increase supply to the required level.”

The organisations have set up the Homebuilding-skills website to give advice on jobs, career routes, education and training. All colleges and training providers offering support to any job role in UK home building are invited to upload information to the portal for free.

NHBC training services manager Rob Lockey said: “The portal provides an important pan-industry response to help tackle these skills shortages – to make it faster and easier for existing employees and new entrants to see what skills and qualifications are needed now and in the future, to support their career plans and to get them registering for training as quickly as possible.”

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