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St. Modwen Homes tackles the UK’s construction skills shortage

As a responsible housebuilder, our commitments are not limited to just making our customer’s dreams come true – we also want to take great care of our employees and make a positive impact in the UK Construction industry.

This is why we partnered with the Chartered Institute for Further Education to commission a new report, which looks at the chronic skills shortage in the UK’s construction sector. While the issue has been apparent for some time, our report identifies a number of key statistics which can help us to understand the issues we’re currently facing and, in turn, provide innovative solutions to attract, retain and develop talent in the future.

Our ‘Building the UK of the Future’ report focuses on four key recommendations: training in the construction industry, the role businesses play in developing the construction workforce, attracting skilled talent, and retaining talent for the future.

We’ve pulled out the following key stats:

  • 168,500 new jobs required in UK construction by 2023
  • 400,000 construction workers could retire in the next five to 10 years
  • 79m UK construction jobs expected in 2023
  • 100% of levels 6-7 apprenticeships receive no government funding
  • 500 extra apprentices predicted to enter the construction workforce each year
  • 42% decrease in people employed without a qualification between 2019 and 2024

Read on if you’d like to hear more about our four key recommendations for the UK Construction industry.

Training for the construction industry

We found that there is a definite shortage of key skills in those just starting out in the industry, as well as those within the current workforce. This supports data shared by various employers, who are struggling to recruit those with the specialist skills or the knowledge needed to excel in their new role.

However, further education (FE) providers and businesses are now seeking alternative training routes, qualifications and teaching methods in the hope this could help to recruit new talent and upskill the current workforce – for example, we know that 48,000 higher level apprenticeships (level 4+) started in 2017/18, compared with just 4,000 in 2011/12, so things are starting to head in the right direction.

Our report calls on the Government to provide additional funding to boost training, helping businesses to plan and invest appropriately so that they can attract the very best new recruits and upskill their workforce.

The role of business in developing the construction workforce

Partnerships between organisations, FE providers and local authorities can lead to the creation of education programmes which benefit new and existing construction employees. As a whole, we also need to get better at using the funding which has already been made available.

Within the report, we talk about our partnership with Burton and South Derbyshire College. By offering our support to site-based work experience, bursaries and training of their employers, we’re helping to ensure their students get the very best experiences – it’s also so important to keep talented educators in teaching roles within the construction industry.

Attracting talent

FE and technical education routes have always been undervalued when compared with Higher Education (University). This has a knock-on effect on the construction sector, as we depend on high-quality technical training to recruit the very best new talent.

Mark Currie, Executive Director at Mantra Learning, said: “Our report highlights how employers and training providers can work together to improve this perception of the sector and make the industry more attractive. For instance, we can increase promotion of careers in primary schools and develop new, exciting career pathways for women.”

Retaining talent

400,000 workers left the construction industry during the economic downturn, and a further 400,000 are set to retire in the next five to 10 years. All of this is causing real concern, as it is unclear how the construction industry in the UK will bounce back and if we’ll be able to cope with the demands of the future.

Our report identifies the key concerns around retaining talent, including the physical nature of the work which may prevent long and healthy careers in the sector. In addition, workplace benefits and wellbeing have become increasingly important, so we need to ensure that workers are in secure, sustainable and supportive roles.

We recommend that SMEs should be supported to increase workplace benefits and wellbeing among employees, providing an improved work-life balance, supporting an aging workforce, and introducing initiatives such as job sharing.

If you want to find out more, download the ‘Building the UK of the Future’ report in full here.

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