The construction industry in Southampton faces fears of a skills crisis after applications for apprenticeships fell by nearly a third in a year.
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Sixteen per cent of the city’s construction workers are over 60 and ready to retire, research suggests.
That could leave the sector short of the labour it needs to meet government plans for more than 300,000 homes to be built next year.
Apprenticeship starts in construction, planning and the built environment have fallen by 31 per cent since 2017, according to analysis by modular building specialist Elliott.
The Chartered Institute of Building has said the industry will need more than 150,000 new workers to keep up with the government’s pledge on new home building.
Only one per cent of the UK’s construction employees are under 20.
There was positive news on efforts to get more women into the industry. Among the new starters, there was a 1,000 per cent increase in female apprenticeships.
According to the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force survey, only 12.5 per cent of construction workers are women and it could take almost 200 years to achieve gender equality across te UK.
Amanda Luciano, Elliott’s UK resourcing manager, said: “The recruitment of construction apprentices is a serious issue that could have a detrimental impact on the local economy and construction sector for many years to come.
“It’s worrying to see the declining number of apprentices in Southampton, but at least rewarding to see there has been an upturn in the number of women wanting to enter the building industry.
“We hope our findings point towards a short-term dip and Southampton can benefit in the future from a local talent pool of highly skilled apprentices,” she added.
The construction industry contributed £117billion to the UK economy last year and contributes six per cent of the UK’s economic output.
Elliott analysed government apprenticeship figures since 2014/15 across 30 of the UK’s largest cities.
The process to recruit new apprentices is due to begin in September.
Fareham College and the Solent Civil Engineering Group have been among those working to get more young people into construction. It estimated that development worth £15bn is planned in Hampshire over the next five years, without enough skills to meet that demand.
Source: Southern Daily Echo