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400,000 workers need recruiting to deliver the homes and infrastructure required

  • 1 Mar 2017

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Arcadis has produced a report, the Arcadis Talent Scale, to explore the extent of the skills crisis across the infrastructure and housing workforce.

To “increase output to 270,000 new homes over the next five years, it will need to employ an excess of 370,000 new people,” the report claims. In order for the forecast national infrastructure requirements to be met, an additional 36,500 people will need to be employed each year.

The report suggests that demand for carpenters and joiners accounts for nearly a sixth of all national resource requirements. Plumbers, electricians and bricklayers are in high demand, also, with at least 7,400 and 7,300 civil engineers and quantity surveyors required.

It is expected that London and the South-East will need to employ 110,000 people, more than other parts of the UK. The East of England requires 43,000 workers and 41,000 for the South-West. On the other hand, just three per cent of the national total is expected to be needed in Ireland.

HS2 and Crossrail 2 will require companies to draw heavily on the common talent pool of transferable skills in order for delivery targets to be achieved, Arcadis predicts. 

Director of workforce planning, James Bryce described the skills gap as a “skills gulf” and explained that underinvestment in the nation’s workforce has contributed to a reduction in UK productivity. If we don’t have the right people to build the homes and infrastructure required in the UK, then we will struggle to maintain competitive position in the global economy, he warned.

In the long term, construction will need to look at those currently working in other industries and “dramatically improve” its efficiency, in addition to education and technology alone.

Bryce added that the government can help by looking to secure the rights of the EU workers currently working in British construction by simplifying the visa system and minimising the tax burden.

Projects that have been predicted for economic stimulus could prove more difficult and costly to resource, if this does not happen. In the worst-case scenario they might not actually be delivered at all.

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