Has the skills shortage finally caught up with us?

Posted by Bob Page on Sep 11 - 2015

There are plans afoot to tackle the housing crisis and create 117,000 new homes across Norfolk and Suffolk by 2026.

But although 30,000 of these houses have already been granted planning permission, work is yet to begin.

Well it seems the skills shortage has finally caught up with us.


What’s the hold up?


Construction is undoubtedly a top priority growth area for the UK but there’s a lack of skills required to help it prosper.

This is a direct result of the recession which caused the industry to contract by 16.5% in just three years.

According to the CITB, more than 350,000 bricklayers, electricians and site managers lost their jobs and, afraid the industry would not be secure for sometime, retired, re-trained or found new employment.

In response, the industry cut back on training and stopped offering apprenticeships.

Now in East Anglia – and around the UK – there is a desperate shortage of construction expertise.

And without workers, many projects and developments are being placed on hold.


A roof over your head


We all have the right to a roof over our head.

But the lack of decent, affordable housing has never been more apparent.

Government initiatives are now focusing on housing shortages but the skills gap has prevented lots of companies from taking advantage of the current opportunities in the sector.

In short, housing demand is creating pressure across an industry which failed to invest in attracting new talent or in the training of existing employees at the height of the economic downturn.

And this means people waiting for homes are going to have to wait even longer.


A national warning


In August 2015, councils across the UK warned that a lack of construction skills could undermine the government’s pledge to build 275,000 affordable homes by 2020.

The Local Government Association said that there was “a growing mismatch” between the construction industry’s increasing demand for skills and a falling number of people gaining construction qualifications.

To ensure that skills shortages do not impact on the government’s housebuilding ambitions, the LGA called for a new national ‘Skills to Build’ strategy to be developed between government, the construction industry, councils and education providers.

Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s housing board, said: “For too long we’ve trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers.

“Too few apprentices are getting the construction skills to build the homes and roads our local communities need and developers are struggling to recruit the skilled labour to build new homes.”


What we can do?


Making an investment in attracting new talent and training existing employees is the only way for business to thrive in the future.

We need to present construction to young people as a viable and attractive career choice.

The industry must overhaul recruitment campaigns and change its image to become an attractive modern employment choice.

It also needs to expand opportunities for apprenticeships.

Apprentices and trainees contribute more to a workforce than just an extra pair of hands – they inject energy, new ideas and a succession plan.

More than that they are a real business need – and could help prevent a catastrophic housing shortage from taking hold.


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