Construction ‘Needs 1 Million More Workers By 2020’

Construction ‘Needs 1 Million More Workers By 2020’

The construction industry in the UK is in need of a million more skilled workers by 2020 and one chief is urging every corner of the industry to help bring new talent into British building.

Leo Quinn, chief executive of Balfour Beatty, one of the country’s biggest construction companies, has called for the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to do more to address the skills shortage.

The issue of a loss of construction manpower is heightened by Brexit, as construction in the UK relies on the flexible movement of workers for seasonal recruitment drives and fixed contracts, but even if Brexit has little impact on existing construction worker trends, the overall picture is still worrying.

Quinn was quoted by the Telegraph as saying: “By 2020, the industry needs another million workers – assuming we lose none of our current European employees, post Brexit. To close that gap – to attract that number of people into the industry and train them properly – requires every part of the system to be pulling its weight.”

Quinn could protest against the annual fee construction companies pay the CITB at a triennial industry meeting. The body, which was established in the ’60s, gets £200 million annually to train workers, but the Balfour Beatty boss does not believe the Board is closely accountable enough to British construction.

CITB policy director Steve Radley argued against Quinn’s position, and said the Board is working hard to address the shortage in skilled construction workers in the UK.

“There is more detail to be fleshed out on how we will change but there is a huge amount of information out about what we plan to do,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Quinn’s concerns are reflected by other decision-makers in the construction industry, with more than half of the industry supporting his rebellion against the existing CITB levy.

“The skills shortage shows it [the CITB] hasn’t been doing its job for some time,” Quinn said.

A One Way report published this month revealed that some 27,000 construction projects could suffer from a lack of suitably skilled and qualified workers in the next five years.

To tackle this shortage, managing director of the construction and rail consultancy Paul Payne said more should be done to encourage and train a greater number of female construction workers.

“We don’t need to go over-the-top, but considering how we could make the sector that bit more inclusive would make a huge difference,” he said. “No other mainstream industry suffers from such a colossal lack of diversity and it’s certainly a major factor contributing to the skills shortages.”

At the moment, just one per cent of on-site construction roles are filled by women.

One Way believes construction needs to develop a more open and inclusive working culture which can be achieved with educating the existing workforce, as well as by engaging in the next generation to help them understand the opportunities available to them in the industry.

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