How Investment in The Construction Industry Will Boost the UK Economy In 2022 And Beyond
According to the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, we are facing one of the biggest UK construction skills shortages and by 2026 over a quarter of a million extra construction workers may be needed.
Basic Elements Of The Construction Skills Network Report
The latest CSN report, released on 14th June 2022, highlights the substantial UK construction skills shortage and has made the following key predictions for 2022 – 2026:
- 266,000 extra workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2026.
- All nine English regions plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to experience growth resulting in increased demand for workers.
- All major sectors forecast to experience recruitment pinch points as demand soars, most affected are: private housing, infrastructure, repair and maintenance.
- If projected growth is met, there will be 2.78 million workers employed in construction industry by 2026.
The construction industry has faced huge uncertainty since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK in 2020. The easing of Covid-19 restrictions across Britain initially led to cautious optimism on industry growth.
However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February 2022 increased supply chain costs and inflation have been brought back into focus. With the introduction of economic sanctions on Russia, rising global commodity prices have been intensified, especially oil and gas, food, and raw materials for industrial production.
As a result, economic forecasts are now being decreased for the UK in 2022 and 2023 as higher energy and food prices drive up inflation and squeeze the cost of living.
What This Means For Coventry
In the West Midlands, the volume of work will grow by an annual average rate of 2.8% meaning that 30,050 extra workers will be needed in West Midlands by 2026.
According to CSN report, all sectors will see growth over the forecasted period, with the majority of work being in repair & maintenance and following a pattern of higher growth in the earlier years.
The level of output growth in the West Midlands gives an annual average increase of 0.8% in the construction workforce. The region’s construction workforce dropped slightly in 2021 to 226,100, however, it is predicted to increase to 229,300 in 2022 and then again to 235,800 by 2026.
Annual recruitment requirement (ARR)
According to the CSN report: The annual recruitment requirement in the West Midlands is set to average 2.7% per year, based on 2021 workforce levels. This means the construction industry would have to increase current recruitment by 8,390 new workers each year to deliver the expected work between the start of 2022 and end of 2026.
HS2 will be a main driver of work in the West Midlands with a total of £12bn worth of civils contracts signed off. The design and construction partner has been appointed for the £570m Birmingham Curzon St station, and the £52m replacement bridge on the Stechford to Aston line, to pave the way for the HS2 approach into Birmingham, is due to complete in late 2022.
Other transport work in the region is the £344m 11km rail extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, which will link with the £24m Dudley Interchange. Construction continues on the £137m Birmingham East side extension to Digbeth.
The West Midlands is also set to be one of the main beneficiaries of the first round of levelling up funding, with 10 schemes across the region receiving around £180m.
Your challenge as an employer
The greatest challenge UK construction faces over the next five years will be recruiting the number of people to fill the growing number of vacancies.
You will need to refresh the way that you recruit staff. Employing fully skilled workers is unlikely to meet the expected shortfall because the workers are no longer available; they have left the industry through retirement, emigration, or choice.
The CITB’s recent report Rethinking Recruitment, showed that just two percent of people surveyed considered construction their preferred industry of work.
To prepare for growth, it is important that we continue to recruit through Apprenticeships. But it is more important than ever that you consider entrants from less traditional avenues such as adult re-skillers; recruiting and retaining skilled workers will be critical to capitalising on the opportunities in this forecast.
And using Level 1 and 2 learners to develop domestic talent. The route from Further Education (FE) into a construction career has been made easier in recent years, with colleges – such as Coventry – creating occupational courses for in-demand roles.
Action from construction companies, learning establishments and governments will help the construction industry to capitalise on growth opportunities and meet the requirements for 2026.