THERE is set to be a shortage in construction workers in the South East by 2028, according to a new report.

The annual industry forecast from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) highlights the continuing persistent gap between what the South East needs to keep up with demand and the workforce available to meet the challenge.  

The CITB's Construction Skills Network (CSN) from 2024 to 2028 has revealed that despite construction output expected to rise by 2.7 per cent a year between now and 2028, 10,400 extra workers will be needed in order to meet the continued industry growth expected over the next five years.

The report added there would be major opportunities in repair and maintenance, in both the housing and non-housing areas in 2024, including an increase in new work in the public and private housing industries from 2025.

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Andover Advertiser: An average of 38,000 vacancies were advertised per monthAn average of 38,000 vacancies were advertised per month (Image: Newsquest)

Despite the industry managing to recruit around 200,000 people every year UK-wide, in 2023, an average of 38,000 vacancies were advertised per month. Although the UK construction industry welcomes 200,000 new workers a year, it also saw the loss of 210,000 workers.

For almost a third (31 per cent) of construction employers, finding suitably skilled staff remains their key challenge, particularly with more older workers retiring and not being replaced. 

With the ongoing difference between the predicted need for construction work and the available workforce, CITB’s forecast shows how important it is for the industry to tackle the issues with effective recruitment and training to replace those leaving and better prepare for the future, as well as to take advantage of key opportunities such as productivity improvements and meeting net zero retrofit targets. 

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CITB has since invested £267m to help the industry improve diversity, quality and productivity as well as making construction a more attractive career choice for future generations.

CITB Chief Executive, Tim Balcon, said: “The UK construction industry will continue to grow, but needs more people in the workforce with the right skills.

"There has always been a demand for workers, and CITB’s CSN report drives home how many are leaving the sector compared to those joining, and the opportunities for employers to address this challenge by recruiting and developing a skilled, competent, and diverse workforce that is able to meet current and future needs. 

“The ‘people pipeline’ is critical to sector growth, but other improvements are also important, including productivity and technological innovation. This is why our commitment to investing over £267m to ensure the skills system is fit for purpose, now and in the future, is so significant. 

“The South East has a range of schemes moving forward that will be major drivers for growth. These include the Lower Thames Crossing, the longest road tunnel in the country, due for completion by 2030 at an estimated cost of £6.4bn-£8.2bn. 

“The past few years have posed many challenges for the industry and as a sector we have shown significant resilience. 2024 and beyond hosts a more positive outlook and through a joined-up approach to recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, CITB will continue to play a crucial role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy.” 

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