A think tank report is recommending the adoption of modern methods of construction to cope with a mounting skills crisis in the London construction industry.
The Centre for London report examines how off-site housing manufacturing and construction can increase the quality, scale, and speed of housing delivery in the capital.
The report warned that the workforce is ageing and could be diminished even more after Brexit. It pointed out that an estimated 36,000 workers are expected to leave the industry within the next nine years, or 12% of the current workforce.
With EU-born workers accounting for 33% of the construction workforce, this number could fall substantially. To compound the situation, the number of apprenticeships in London’s built industry has gone down by nearly 50% in the five years leading to 2016.
According to a 2017 report prepared by the Greater London Authority, the construction occupations with the greatest skills shortages are on-site trades such as bricklayers, scaffolders, and plant mechanics. It found that modern methods of construction such as off-site housing manufacturing and construction could complete schemes in two-thirds of the time required by traditional construction.
The report also suggests that off-site construction could assist in shifting the workload from the constraints of regular construction sites to a safer and more controlled factory environment. Other benefits include reduced environmental impact and a more diversified workforce.