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100,000 new construction workers needed by 2020

Published on 1st October 2015

Nearly 100,000 new construction workers and engineers need to be recruited and trained by 2020 in order to successfully deliver major infrastructure projects, according to the National Infrastructure Plan for Skills.

The skills shortage in the construction industry is already causing delays to both housebuilding and commercial property developments, but the government-backed report has identified that the problems could be even more severe in the infrastructure sector.

With planned investment in transport, energy and environmental projects rising, researchers predicted that by 2020 a total of 250,000 construction workers and 150,000 engineers would be needed to deliver the pipeline of work.

While the workforce numbered around 360,000 at the end of 2014, a combination of natural attrition and increased demand will create a shortfall of almost 100,000 skilled workers by the end of the decade, the report predicted.

The authors also estimated that 250,000 of the existing construction workers and engineers would need retraining and upskilling in order to ensure the right skills were available to deliver major projects.

Lord O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “It is crucial we have the right people with the right skills in place to build and maintain our first-class infrastructure, essential to rebalancing our economy.

“This report is just the first step in addressing how we can work with industry to ensure our workforce’s competitiveness for the future.”

Richard Threlfall, head of Infrastructure at KPMG, welcomed the report and the development of a national plan for skills as an important step for the sector.

“It forces the construction industry to look beyond the current skills crisis to the long-term need to invest in its people, get serious about apprenticeships, and to re-train and diversify its workforce. This is a report the industry cannot ignore,” he said.

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