Skills shortages still pose major threat to construction industry growth, says the Build Show

As several major pieces of industry research identify skills shortages as posing a serious threat to the on-going growth of the construction industry, the Build Show is warning that more must be done to support skills development

In a worrying statistic, the National Specialist Contractors Council revealed that 19% of specialist firms have reported being unable to bid for work because of a lack of skilled staff. The figure, which was released as part of the NSCC’s second quarter State of Trade Survey, is a significant increase on the yearly average of 6%.

Meanwhile, the challenges of finding workers with the right skills have also been highlighted by companies surveyed in the latest UK construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), released by financial information provider Markit. As the housebuilding market in particular grows at its fastest rate in more than a decade, many of the firms surveyed in Markit’s research reported concerns about securing a skilled workforce in order to meet the increasing demands.

The results echo the findings of the Build Show’s own research, in which 44% of construction professionals pointed to skills shortages as the biggest challenge faced by their business currently. A lack of clarity about how young people can break into the construction industry was cited as the main issue, with 47% of respondents claiming clearer routes into the industry with formal training and qualifications are required.

A further 28% argued that more financial support for businesses to provide apprenticeships is needed, while just over 24% believed that a greater focus on hands-on training and work experience is the key.

Paul Godwin, Managing Director of the Build Show, commented:

“The message is really coming across loud and clear from all sides: as an industry, developing a well-trained and highly skilled workforce must be our biggest priority if we are to sustain the growth we all wish to see. It’s particularly relevant over the coming weeks as young people receive their exam results and start thinking about their future employment options.

“We’ll be placing a major focus on training and skills development at the Build Show, with support from our partners including the Construction Industry Training Board, Federation of Master Builders and National Federation of Builders. We know that there is a thirst for high level support and information about skills training, and we will seek to provide exactly that through a detailed and inclusive seminar programme.”

Taking place at the Birmingham NEC next year, the Build Show is the most comprehensive contractor-based exhibition in a decade, bringing together contractors, specifiers, builders, suppliers, housebuilders, architectural technologists and clients, to network, showcase new products and discover opportunities for professional development.

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