Construction has bounced back quicker than expected from the Covid-19 pandemic and the industry will reach 2019 levels of output in 2022. By 2025, the industry will need to recruit an additional 217,000 new workers just to meet demand. That’s the forecast of the Construction Skills Network (CSN) 2021-25, published by CITB today.

According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1%).

Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2%) and private housing (6.7%) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025. We also expect a growing contribution to come from repair, maintenance and improvement work, as retrofitting existing buildings to meet net zero emissions targets becomes more important.

In terms of annual average recruitment requirement (ARR), the most in demand trades are forecast to be in wood trades & interior fit-out (5,500 per year), other construction professionals and technical staff (5,150), construction managers (3,600) and electrical installation trades and (3,400). There will also be a demand for non-construction, office-based professional, technical and IT support staff (7,850).

However, it’s not all good news – the commercial sector faces significant near-term risks while the public sectors could be impacted by tighter government finances.​ Despite this, the CSN forecasts UK output to grow annually at an average rate of 4.4% across 2021-2025.​

Commenting on the data FIS CEO, Iain McIlwee said:

It is good to see recognition of the shortages we have been raising for some time now in wood trades and interior fit-out, plastering and dry lining.  At FIS we recognise that there is nothing more important our work that targeting this gap, it is absolutely something we are really have to focus on collectively.  Simply put our culture has to change and infrastructure rapidly scale up to deliver the apprentice and training programmes we have, not just the number of people, but the competent people we need to deliver our work.  Against the numbers identified in this report, we must recognise the tap from the EU is off and for every 5% of EU workers that were here at the start of 2020 that decide not to apply to remain through the settlement scheme by the end of this month, our annual recruitment target doubles.

CITB Policy Director Steve Radley said:

“It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities. We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with government and FE to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.

“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as Net Zero emissions and Building Safety. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills and skills related to energy efficiency.”

The Construction Skills Network national and regional data can be found here.

Supporting information can be found in the FIS Employment and Workforce Management toolkit.

Visit the FIS Skills Hub here.