22 Feb 2017

Construction backlog ‘needs two million people in five years’

The Arcadis Talent Scale study said two million people would have to join the sector over five years if a housing and infrastructure construction backlog was to be overcome. 

This was based on the industry delivering government targets on housebuilding as well as major infrastructure programmes.

Housebuilding is the primary driver behind the projections, with Arcadis calculating that nearly 371,000 recruits a year will be needed to meet housing targets, while infrastructure projects will require around 36,000 annually.

The consultant said skills shortages could lead to higher labour costs and combine with already rising material costs to push up construction prices and jeopardise output growth.

“The skills shortage is limiting capacity and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” said Arcadis director of workforce planning James Bryce, who worked on the report.

Electricians, plumbers, carpenters and joiners were highlighted as being in very short supply.

Arcadis attributed the shortage in these areas to a perfect storm of fewer apprentices, a large number of over-50s leaving the workforce, falling migration and rising demand.

Mr Bryce said this problem had developed over many years because of a change in approach to work.

“Over the years we’ve seen an increase in people seeking white-collar work, [with] a lot of the shortfall in construction labour being backfilled with workers from abroad.”

The report separately predicts that a ‘hard Brexit’ scenario would see 214,000 fewer EU nationals enter UK construction by 2020.

This additional shortfall would have a nationwide impact, the consultant says the problem will be more acute in London and the South-east, where demand for new housing is at its highest.

These two regions alone account for 27 per cent of the additional labour that will be needed for the housebuilding sector. 

A skills shortage in certain trades is likely to see those trades that are most in-demand requiring higher wages, the report suggested.

This would add even more pressure to input costs which recently rose at their fastest rate since 2008, according to the construction Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Mr Bryce said: “We need to be thinking on a longer timeframe.

“Some infrastructure projects being prepared now won’t be built for another 10 years, and the people who will be working on those schemes are in their teens.

“The National Skills Academies are the first step, but we need to start attracting the next generation of workers now.”

Arcadis made three recommendations for plugging the skills gap in the short term: recruiting from other industries; redeploying older workers into supervisory roles that allow them to pass on their skills and knowledge; and a review by the industry of how labour is organised and time is spent throughout the supply chain aimed at reducing waste.

14 Feb 2017

The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is reminding the industry to prepare for the withdrawal of the Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card. CSCS will stop issuing CRO cards from 31st March 2017.

Cardholders must take further steps to replace their CRO cards before they expire, read on to find out what happens if:

You already have an approved qualification

CRO card holders with approved qualifications will be able to apply for a skilled worker card without having to complete any further qualifications.

Your occupation is moved to another card scheme

Industry has confirmed that over 70 occupations are better represented by one of CSCS’s Partner Card Schemes. You need to contact the appropriate scheme to discuss their application requirements.

Your occupation is removed from the scheme

Industry has confirmed over 60 occupations are non-construction related and should be removed from the scheme.  CSCS will not be issuing cards for these occupations. This means workers will be arriving on site without a card.

Your qualification requires enhancement

Industry has confirmed a number of CRO occupations have existing qualifications that do not meet the nationally recognised standards for those skilled occupations.  Industry is working together to bring these qualifications up to the agreed nationally recognised standards.

CSCS needs more information about your occupation

Industry has identified 25 CRO occupations that require further investigation before deciding what to do next. We are asking for individuals or sector representatives involved in these occupations to get in touch with the CSCS team.

Your occupation is moved to Labourer

Industry has agreed a number of CRO occupations are labouring and should be moved to the green Labourer Card. CRO card holders working in these occupations must complete an approved qualification and apply for the green Labourer Card.

To find out more, please contact: –

Construction Skills Certification Scheme Ltd.

Tel 020 7291 0740