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BUILDING SCHOOLS TO KEEP CONSTRUCTION BUOYANT IN FUTURE

The Construction Skills Network report 2007 published today by ConstructionSkills reveals that Government spending on education and, specifically, Building Schools for the Future, will provide the single largest boost to construction employment outside London. The national picture shows that this eclipses even the resource demands of the 2012 Olympic build in the next five years.

The Construction Skills Network provides the most detailed analysis of workflow and project type available for the construction industry and forecasts the occupational skills requirement, by region, nation and sector. It reveals that 87,600 recruits will be needed each year between 2007-2011 in order to meet demand and to take account of those leaving the industry – a slight increase on 2006 estimates.

The first three waves of the Building Schools for the Future programme, to renew or rebuild every secondary school in the country, will play a major role in the industry’s growth. By 2011, every local authority will have received funding to renew at least the school in greatest need. An expected £4.7bn is set to be released for construction and ICT (information and communications technology) improvements in schools over the next five years. 90% of the investment on each site will be allocated to construction, making the programme a significant demand on industry resource and expertise.

  • Of all UK regions, the South of England will see the greatest demand. Together, Greater London, the South East and the East of England are forecast to increase their total share of construction output to 41.1% by 2011 and will need 42% of all new recruits to meet that demand. London alone will need 12,880 new recruits every year - up from 9,520 last year. Construction in the capital will be buoyed by major infrastructure investment by Transport for London and several large regeneration programmes. While the 2012 Olympics will boost London’s construction industry, it may even act as a catalyst for work in the Thames Gateway long after 2012, which is outside the scope of the forecast period.

The highest increase in employment will be seen in trades such as bricklaying and building envelope specialists, including cladders and roofers (14%). However, white collar workers continue to be in significant demand. Over 32% of the recruits forecast to enter industry between 2007-2011 are needed to fill professional roles such as construction managers, architects and technical staff.

The infrastructure sector is forecast to be one of the strongest drivers of new work output growth with average UK-wide growth of 5.2% per annum as work begins on some significant station expansion and refurbishment projects. These include Birmingham New Street, the Scottish Executive’s planned £3bn capital investment programme in strategic road and rail projects, expansion of the ports at Harwich, Felixstowe and Great Yarmouth as well as Manchester Metrolink, works on the M6 and the M25 and the development of Heathrow East. The infrastructure sector is expected to be particularly strong in Greater London, the East of England and Scotland.

Repair and Maintenance makes up 40% of all construction work in the UK but faces a modest outlook and average annual growth of 1.5% over the period, as the focus on new build continues. Increases in the industrial sector are also expected to remain modest at just 1.6% a year.

Annual output growth for public non-residential work is expected to come largely on the back of the Building School for the Future programme, particularly in the North East, North West, East Midlands and West Midlands. Public housing growth is also expected to be strong at 4.7% per annum, driven by demand for key worker and affordable housing.

Construction output will grow in every UK region and nation between 2007- 2011. The Construction Skills Network report also forecasts some significant regional differences across the UK:

  • A £14 billion public investment programme (2006–2015) in Northern Ireland will make for a 4.3% average annual growth rate in the province, exceeding the national average.
  • Scotland is forecast to have the third highest rate of infrastructure growth, largely driven by the Scottish Executive’s planned £3 billion capital investment programme in road and rail projects.
  • The North East is forecast to employ over 112,000 employees in the construction industry by 2011, fuelled in part by the £242 million expected investment in Building Schools for the Future.
  • In the East Midlands commercial construction is predicted to grow by 5.6% per year until 2011, the UK’s biggest expansion in this sector. This growth is driven by the largest PFI outside London, the University Hospital Leicester NHS Trust, as well as the redevelopment of Silverstone.
  • Construction employment in Wales is projected to grow 8.8% between 2007-2011, the highest relative recruitment increase of any region and a scale of growth that will pose a real challenge to training providers in the region.

Peter Lobban, ConstructionSkills comments: “There is no shortage of applicants to the industry, with applications to construction and built environment courses and apprenticeships on the increase. One of our biggest challenges is to ensure new entrants and existing workers have access to the training that will deliver the skills that are required for projects across all sectors. The Newall Green High School in Wythenshawe is a good example of how the Building Schools for the Future programme and project-based training through the National Skills Academy for Construction come together to deliver the skills which ensure the construction industry continues to grow and the workforce is equipped to deliver against the demand.”

The Construction Skills Network represents more than ‘just a model' and has grown organically from forecasting skills demand to beginning now to address the wider industry issues associated with managing specific skills gaps and shortages, including workforce mobility, diversity, sustainability and modern construction methods. It aims to help the industry to establish the skills demand which it faces on a national, regional and sub-regional level, enabling us to identify and prepare for potential future 'hot-spots'.

For more information about a career in the construction industry go to www.bconstructive.co.uk. A full copy of the ConstructionSkills Network report can be downloaded at ConstructionSkills Web Site

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