The latest CITB Construction Skills Network (CSN) report forecasts that UK construction output and employment will return to pre-Covid 2019 levels in 2022.
With the industry returning to growth, it needs to start thinking about recruiting again, the CSN report suggests.
According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7% per year) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the Northeast (-0.1%).
Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions. Infrastructure and private housing are expected to be the strongest growers.
CSN forecasts that infrastructure output will grow at an average of 5.2% per year over the next five years annum – a compound rate of more than 28% – while private housing will grow at 6.7% per year, or more than 38% over the five-year period. The report predicts a growing contribution to come from repair, maintenance and improvement work, as retrofitting existing buildings to meet net zero emissions targets becomes more important.
(However, the previous CSN report, published in October 2020, predicted even greater average annual growth of 5.6% for infrastructure and 7.8% for private housing.)
By contrast, the commercial sector faces significant near-term risks while the public sectors could be impacted by tighter government finances, the report says.
Despite this, the CSN forecasts UK output to grow annually at an average rate of 4.4% across 2021-2025 – or 24% compound rate over the five years.
To meet the demand of the next few years, the UK construction industry needs an additional 216,800 workers by 2025, the Construction Skills Network 2021-25 forecast concludes.
In terms of annual average recruitment requirement (ARR), the most in demand trades are forecast to be in wood trades & interior fit-out (5,500 per year), other construction professionals and technical staff (5,150), construction managers (3,600) and electrical installation trades and (3,400). There will also be substantial demand for non-construction, office-based professional, technical and IT support staff (7,850).
CITB policy director Steve Radley said: “It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities. We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with government and FE (further education) to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.
“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as net zero emissions and building safety. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills and skills related to energy efficiency.”