Nine leading construction bodies join forces to call for action on skills crisis

Concentrated recruitment drives are desperately needed for 18 key roles within the sector and collaboration between industry and government is essential in addressing these shortages, according to the some of the biggest federations and representative bodies.

In a statement published today (25 January), organisations including the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), Build UK, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Plant-hire Association, Construction Products Association, Federation of Master Builders, Highways Term Maintenance Association, National Federation of Builders and the Chartered Institute of Building have all identified the gaps and the work needed to be done.

Research from across the members of each organisation and the wider industry have revealed the role which are hardest to recruit for. The groups recommend that wherever possible, steps should be taken to recruit for these roles within the UK, bringing in new workers or upskilling the existing workforce.

Where this is not possible, it is proposed that the government add the roles to its Shortage Occupation list as part of its current review of migration as the UK leaves the EU. Additions to the Shortage Occupation list would allow these roles to be prioritised in future migration from the rest of the world, helping industry to fill these essential roles.

Commenting, Hannah Vickers, chief executive of ACE, said: “Whichever Brexit scenario becomes reality, we look forward to engaging with government so that the particular skills needs of our members, who design and deliver our national infrastructure, are met - whether that be through further developing apprenticeships or migration, or most realistically a combination of both. They play a vital role in unlocking economic growth and will be crucial to helping establish the strong foundations of a post-Brexit UK.”

The roles identified are: 

  • Acoustic 
  • Engineers 
  • Bricklayers    
  • Carpenters   
  • Ceiling Fixers
  • Chartered Surveyors   
  • Civil Engineers 
  • Construction and building trades supervisors 
  • Construction Project Managers   
  • Design engineers
  • Dry Liners 
  • General Labourers   
  • Groundworkers 
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineers 
  • Planners 
  • Plant And Machine Operatives   
  • Production Managers and Directors 
  • Quantity Surveyors  
  • Structural Engineers 

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “We believe that it is crucial that we work together, as an industry and with government to target these shortage occupations, boosting recruitment and training in the UK, while looking to sensible migration from the rest of the world to meet additional demand.”

Suzannah Nichol, chief executive at Build UK, added: “Construction projects across the UK are being held back by a shortage of suitable skills. This survey provides vital evidence of the specific roles which must now be considered by the government for inclusion on the Shortage Occupation list ensuring that we can keep Britain building.”

While Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “The industry working together has produced a clear picture of where the construction industry will lack skills. It is vital we continue to work together to improve capability in these areas and with Government to ensure that skills is part of a comprehensive immigration scheme.” 

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