(photo: Elliott Brown)
09.06.2021, 14:19

Britain Builds Back

According to a forecast by the UK's Construction Skills Network (CSN), the sector will return to 2019 levels within a year as a result of demand from the HS2 railway project and need 217,000 new workers by 2025.


The forecasts is based on survey data for a report published by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) which found that most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with the East Midlands (1.7 per cent) and West Midlands (1.4 per cent) projected to lead demand. Scotland (1.4 per cent) and Wales (0.7 per cent) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1 per cent).


Major projects such as the High Speed 2 (HS2) purpose-built high-speed railway system are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2 per cent annually) and private housing (6.7 per cent) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025. The report predicts 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 and 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 as the results suggest the commercial sector faces significant near-term risks whilst 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 per cent across 2021-2025.​

CITB Policy Director, Steve Radley, comments: "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." 


Key takeaways from the Construction Skills Network (CSN) 2021-25 report:

  • The UK average recruitment requirement (ARR) is 4.4% 
  • The UK construction workforce is due to grow by 1% per year 
  • There will be an extra 216,800 construction jobs to fill in the UK by 2025 
  • Private housing work is forecast to grow by £12.1 billion

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