Professionals from across the construction industry have warned that any boost in productivity offered by the government’s Northern Powerhouse plan is threatened by a lack of available workers on the ground, according to research conducted by UK Construction Week.

Charlie Scherer, chief operating officer at the residential construction business Willmott Dixon, said: “While it is welcome news that devolution deals will likely increase development in the major northern hubs, there is much to be done if the industry is to have the capacity to make the most of the opportunities presented. Skills shortages are now equal to their pre-recession highs. Our industry is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent every year for the next five years, creating 224,000 new jobs, but as we expect 400,000 people to retire in the same period, a major gap is placing that growth in jeopardy.”

Chris Wood, chief executive at Develop Training, an accredited provider of compliance, technical and safety training, said: “An ageing and poorly trained workforce is a real problem facing the construction industry. Without a marked increase in training provision, it is difficult to see how new construction opportunities will be delivered appropriately.”