Construction industry set to experience recruitment pinch points as UK demand rises

New figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) forecast a big rise in the demand for construction workers over the next five years.   

  • The industry is set to experience recruitment pinch points, as extra 266,000 workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2026 (53,200 workers per year)
  • Carpentry and joinery identified as one of the occupations most affected by rising demand
  • The recruitment challenge for the sector is expected across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • All major sectors forecast to experience recruitment pinch points as demand soars with private housing, infrastructure and repair and maintenance most affected

Construction is set to experience recruitment pinch points, as over a quarter of a million additional workers will be needed by 2026 to meet growing demand in the industry, the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report finds.

 The report finds all major sectors are expected to experience increasing recruitment demands as demand for construction increases, but the most affected sectors are expected to be private housing, infrastructure and repair and maintenance.

  • Private housing output is forecasted to exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2023, having seen strong growth since the pandemic.
  • Infrastructure: saw the shallowest fall in output (5%) of any of the new work sectors in 2020 The government views investment in major infrastructure projects and programmes of work as key in delivering the post-pandemic economic recovery along with levelling-up and future energy security.
  • Repair and maintenance: Growth in repair and maintenance is expected to be driven in part by the Government’s £9.2bn commitment to increase the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals, which includes funding to improve energy efficiency of social housing and grants for private home improvements. 

 With job vacancies at a record high, and unemployment at its lowest level in 50 years, the report forecasts that recruitment and developing a highly-skilled workforce will be the biggest challenge construction will face over the next five years.

 If projected growth is met, construction employment will reach a high of nearly 2.78 million workers by 2026, with the largest increases in annual demand will be for occupations such as carpenters, joiners and construction managers, along with a range of technical roles. These include electronics technicians, civil engineering technicians, estimators and valuers, as well as office-based support staff. 

 This comes as CITB urges industry and government to come together in refreshing the way the industry hires and trains, making construction an attractive place for everyone to work.  


CITB CEO Tim Balcon, said: “Construction is vital in supporting the backbone of the UK economy. These future growth projections are encouraging after the stalling effects of the pandemic. However, this is set against a current backdrop of higher energy costs, material shortages, and associated price inflation that is currently hitting companies across the sector.    

 “The has a lot to offer, and there is so much potential to engage in a career that sees you enter the industry as an apprentice and leave it as the CEO. The industry needs to use its many strengths to attract and retain top talent in a competitive recruitment landscape

 “Training routes into the industry will be a focus for us and we have to attract and retain those that are under-represented – in particular women and those from ethnic minorities.  It will be a major task, but the industry needs to evolve and reach its untapped potential for the national economy and our competitiveness on a global scale.” 

In CITB’s Business Plan, launched last month, three core challenges are set out. These challenges, which reflect the views of employers and a wide variety of stakeholders, are: 


·       Responding to the skills demands  

·       Developing the capacity and capability of construction training provision 

·       Addressing future skills needs. 


The plan shows how CITB will invest over £233m across Britain to support construction throughout 2022/23. 

 CITB will create more accessible routes into construction, focus on apprenticeships and on-site experience, and roll-out occupational traineeships in Further Education.  

This year, a total of £110m in training grants reaching 14,000 businesses is available. This includes £60.3m in direct grants to employers who take on apprentices, supporting the industry to address its current and future need for a skilled workforce.   


Why the construction industry needs to investigate alternative paths to entry to address the ongoing pain of skills shortages

 By Emma Dickson Emma Dickson is Technical Director at Arcadis and industry co-chair of the

Scottish Construction Leadership Forum’s Skills and Workforce sub group

Employers in the construction industry in Scotland hardly need to be reminded of the skills shortages which are hampering the industry as it continues to focus on recovery – shortages which are coming close to threatening the sector’s long-term health.

The fact that demand for skills is outstripping supply is not by any stretch of the imagination a new problem but, as infrastructure and building companies enter 2022 with workloads at their highest levels for 10 years, it is certainly retaining pole position in the typical employer’s list of worries.

 Added to the nagging concerns of soaring prices, supply chain issues and materials scarcity, the ongoing struggle to secure and retain quality trades people is turning what should be a boom period for the industry into just another everyday nightmare.

 But, rather than dwelling on what seems an increasingly difficult problem, discerning employers are challenging themselves, along with industry bodies and associations, to search for alternative, realistic solutions.

 The first step, perhaps, is to look at what is actually working. The industry can be quietly proud of the way it supported apprentices over the Covid years, even though there was a backlog at the end of last year of around 1,000 who had still to qualify.

 However, it takes time – four years, typically – and significant dedication to bring school leavers through traditional apprenticeship routes; there can be a drop-out rate of around 35% in some craft trades; and, while they may be very well trained, many do not have the life experience of more mature employees.

 Though this is not intended in anyway to diminish the traditional entryway, some employers are also looking to take on older, with longer work histories, and offer them different, shorter apprenticeships on the grounds that they know what is expected of them and that, if they are keen to learn, they will progress quickly.

Of course, some employers may feel that taking on learners is an expensive option, even though there is significant financial help with training costs these days. In cases such as these, they could perhaps consider shared apprenticeships, which can work with a regional approach.

 These schemes allow companies who may not be in a position to offer full-term training to dip in and out, with durations as short as three months, thus supporting the development of skills but with no commitment at the end. Apprentices in these circumstances are found a series of placements and help with securing permanent employment on completion.

 Even employers who have invested in skills and nurtured employee relationships are facing another threat in the current climate – keeping their workers on board. Basic supply and demand is pushing wages up at an unprecedented level and skilled people are very much in a seller’s market.

 But while worker loyalties may be strained by tempting offers from elsewhere, responsible employees may be persuaded to exercise restraint if offered a more structured personal development plan, or a healthier work-life balance.

 On the same theme, making the industry attractive to the upcoming generations can only work to employers’ advantage. Gen Z, as well as demanding better conditions and company culture, can be attracted by an organisation which has demonstrable green credentials and differentiates itself from the competition by taking environmental, social and governance seriously.

 Part-time posts, rather than full-time, are a useful tool for widening the pool of people open to skills development and may well increase diversity by attracting time-limited demographics into the industry. Internships and school taster sessions will also help to generate interest.

 It could, in the end, be argued that one of the most positive approaches the industry could take would be to stop being so diffident about itself and start blowing its own trumpet.

 Not much recognition is given outside the sector to the fact that construction has changed out of all recognition over recent years, becoming a key component in the drive to build a stronger, fairer and greener economic future.

 Employees in construction have some of the best career paths in the country, are treated with dignity and respect and have sparkling prospects for advancement. Oh yes, and the wages can be terrific.

 If we can effectively get that message across, then in a few years the current pain of lack of skills could become a fading memory.

SMEs are encouraged to share their different approaches to resolve the skills shortages by emailing Emma directly via

£9,500 grants to help solve construction skills shortages

Apprenticeship training provider SBC Training is urging employers to come forward to help solve a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry.The availability of labour is now the number one issue within the UK construction sector

It comes as the availability of labour is now the number one issue within the UK construction sector.

Staff mobility is high as people look for the best pay packets, causing further disruption. Research by Search Consultancy into the extent of the skills shortage has found that 83 per cent of businesses within the construction industry are feeling the strain from a lack of skilled workers.

But according to SBC Training young people are really keen to join the sector, they just need to be given an opportunity.

One day a week at the SBC Training Construction Centre is giving him the skills to apply at work and he is working as a full part of the team involved in setting out, blockwork and brickwork, increasing his skills every day.

SBC Training said many more young people would really like to join the construction industry and grants of up to £9,500 per apprentice are available to help employers to get involved.

Colin Thaw, of SBC Training, said: “We have some really excellent young people who really want to train in bricklaying and site carpentry, but need more employers to offer them the chance. The CITB provides generous apprenticeship grants to employers so I would urge employers to contact us on 01743 454810 or email and between us we can begin to solve the skills shortage.”


Source: Shropshire Star

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