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New report highlights the need for a construction recruitment drive

With construction bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels of output faster than originally expected, it is no surprise that the industry will need to retain skilled individuals and recruit new people to keep pace with predicted growth in the coming years. 

The latest report from the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network (CSN) suggests that the industry will need to recruit more than 216,000 extra people (43,000 per year) by 2025 to meet the growing demand for skills on construction projects. Already employing close to 1 in 10 people in the UK, this will bring the total number of people employed in construction to 2.84 million.

The ‘Construction Skills Network 5-Year Outlook 2021-2025’ report suggests that industry output will grow by an average of 4.4% per year over the next five years. The figures also predict an 11% growth this year, meaning output will return to pre-pandemic levels by early 2022 – far ahead of what was predicted 12 months ago. The biggest growth sectors are predicted to be in private housing and infrastructure, which could respectively see a 21% and 13% expansion this year, with an average of 6.7% and 5.2% over the 2021 to 2025 period.

However, this rate of growth means that the industry must attract and retain talented people to ensure a worsening skills shortage does not limit construction productivity. The CSN report highlights the trades and professions with the largest projected recruitment needs. This includes:

• Wood trades and interior fit-out – 5,500 per year.
• Electrical trades – 3,400 per year.
• Surveyors – 1,800 per year.
• Bricklayers – 1,450 per year.
• Civil Engineers – 1,350 per year.
• Plumbing and HVAC trades – 1,250 per year.

The report also suggests that beyond this, the industry will also need to recruit an additional 7,850 people per year into non-construction, typically office based roles to provide support functions such as IT, finance and technical support to construction businesses.

Also highlighted by the CSN report are the regional differences in the number of people that must be recruited. South West England is predicted to have the largest requirements with 32,000 extra recruits needed by 2025, followed by Scotland, the West Midlands and North West England.

Much of the recent focus has been on material shortages and the impact that this will have on projects. However, reports such as this highlight the continued importance of both recruiting and retaining talented individuals who can help drive the next phase of construction industry growth.

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