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Construction Skills Shortage could affect 27,000 projects

A new report has been published, and it brings dire news. A growing shortage of skilled workers in the UK construction industry could compromise up to 27,000 projects a year.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) released the report after it came to light that a shortage of qualified candidates was causing recruitment problems for surveyors. When 75,000 RICS members were surveyed, two out of five said that the skills shortage was forcing them to turn down new business.

If it isn’t stopped, the problem will peak in five years’ time, when thousands of businesses are expected to turn down work.

RICS representative Alan Muse said that surveyors play an important role in the completion of all construction projects. Without a surveyor, a project is not built, which makes the research results worrying.

Mr Muse predicted that the UK construction industry will continue to grow, but the demand for skills will outstrip the supply, leaving businesses without the capability or capacity to complete planned projects.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said that supporting the supply of skilled talent is key to rejuvenating the building industry. The Government has been working with the construction sector to ensure that the necessary workers become available through training and recruitment, and a commitment has been made between the Government and industry leaders to create thousands of new apprenticeships and jobs over the coming years.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has already reported that 100,000 new jobs have been created since 2013, and a new initiative has been launched to attract more people to the housebuilding trade.

HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley said that increased housebuilding activity has put pressure on the current labour force, but homebuilders are going to great lengths to recruit the staff needed to ensure that the supply of needed workers continues to increase. Particular focus is on those who left the industry during the last recession, former military employees, young people considering their first job, and those who are considering construction as a new career.

Mr Baseley confirmed that a short term solution has been to recruit personnel from other construction sectors or from abroad, but the industry is still focused on creating a workforce by attracting young people to the building trades and training them for a future in the field.

GMB national officer Phil Whitehurst said that the building industry will get back on track in the UK only when construction employers admit to their own failure to invest in real apprenticeships, even before the recent recession. He commented that they had opted for low wage alternatives and offered little in the way of a future for those employed under such conditions.

When things were good they did not invest he said, adding that the horse has now bolted, creating a huge skills shortage, and now the same employers are now trying to justify their earlier no-investment position.

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