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21st November 2007

Quality and numbers of professional construction recruits in decline warns Construction Skills All Party Parliamentary Group

The Construction Skills All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) today debates new research by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) which highlights that 70% of Construction Professional Services (CPS) firms believe that a shortage of recruits is the biggest problem facing the £13.9 billion industry.

The research also shows that 74% of CPS firms have found that job applicants are likely to be lacking the necessary technical skills.

The UK CPS sector – which includes professions such as engineering, architecture and surveying - currently employs approximately 270,000 people, and requires 12,340 competent new professionals entering the industry every year to meet the current growth rate and as major projects such as the Olympics gather speed. Added pressure is being put on the industry because 20% of current CPS professionals could retire in the next 10 years.

50 to 60% of all CPS firms anticipate recruitment difficulties over the next year and with student numbers on Built Environment courses having dropped by 28% since 2003/4, the industry is focusing upon attracting high calibre young professionals into the sector.

Today’s Construction Skills APPG meeting will address what needs to be done to join up industry and academia to encourage more young people to consider Built Environment-related degree courses and to ensure that these meet the needs of today’s CPS employers.

The CIC research also found that:

  • All CPS firms reported some difficulties in recruitment with between 40% and 53% reporting ‘hard to fill’ vacancies.
  • The main cause of recruitment difficulties was a low number of applicants with required skills.
  • CPS employers believe that the quality of recruits who are either graduate level, part-qualified members of professional institutions or trained to other levels has declined.

Mark Way, Director of Skills, CIC, commented: “This research demonstrates the value of the contribution made to the UK economy by Professional Services and emphasises the scale of the professional input necessary to support the current levels of UK construction activity. The lack of a whole range of key skills in recruits is of real concern; a problem compounded by a future shortage of potential recruits. “

Nick Raynsford, MP, Deputy Chair, Construction Skills All Party Parliamentary Group, added: "Considering the scale of building, infrastructure and regeneration projects currently being planned or already underway across the country it is vital that we have enough qualified and experienced people to deliver the programme. Not only do we require the skills associated with day to day work on site we also need the town planners, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, and other professionals whose contribution is essential to successful construction skills."

Richard Haryott, Arup Foundation, said: “There is absolutely no doubt that if society is to rise to the challenge of creating a sustainable future for us all, we will need to be able to attract and retain the very best and brightest to careers in the built environment. The Arup Foundation is bringing together a group of industry funders, managed by The Royal Academy of Engineering, to tackle this. With further support visiting professors in other crucial areas such as project management and economics could be created, bringing together industry and academe to collaborate to forge success.”

The research findings will be presented in detail at the official launch on Tuesday 4 December 2007, 6.30pm- 8.30pm at One Whitehall Place, Westminster, London SW1A 2HD, to register, call CIC on: 020 7399 7407.

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