UK Construction Week’s research on the Northern Powerhouse has revealed that the industry’s 200,000 worker shortage is threatening the productivity and potential growth promised by the plan.
Conceived by the Conservative government, the Northern Powerhouse Plan focuses on the extension of devolution deals to Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and the Midlands. It also pushes for the creation of a new Greater Manchester Land Commissions.
The plan has been well received by MPs; construction professionals widely believe that it will enhance the industry’s economic prosperity and development.
However, without more skilled ground workers to implement it, the plan risks failure.
Although devolution deals are likely to increase development in the North, the construction industry does not have the capacity to capitalise on the opportunities available.
The industry is expected to experience an annual growth of almost 3% for the next five years, but skills shortages are now equal to pre-recession highs.
Around 224,000 new jobs will be created, but with 400,000 people expected to retire in the same period, the industry’s growth is under threat.
50% of the energy and utilities sector, for example, is predicted to leave the industry by 2023. This means that 200,000 new recruits will be needed to bridge the gap.
Many companies, such as Willmott Dixon, have built a network of construction ambassadors to encourage young people to join the construction industry.
Although Willmott Dixon alone trains 250 apprentices and graduates a year, the skills shortage must be tackled on a larger and more consistent scale to allow for sufficient growth.
Many professionals believe that firms are failing to attract new recruits, who are pressured to continue down an academic route upon leaving secondary school. Apprenticeships have been largely ignored over the past few years; the construction industry is now experiencing the consequences of this.
As one of the biggest construction trade events Britain has seen, UK Construction Week aims to support the industry’s nationwide growth.
It will host a number of practical workshops and seminars, focusing on apprenticeships and encouraging a ‘Learn to Earn’ mentality to tackle the construction skills shortage.
The show will be held at Birmingham’s NEC from 6th to 8th October.
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