Almost 225,000 extra UK construction workers required by 2027


THE UK will require almost 225,000 extra construction workers by 2027 to meet industry demand, new research has revealed.

Despite the current economic challenges and rising material and labour costs, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said almost 45,000 new workers will be required annually over the next five years. If projected growth is met, by 2027 the number of people working in construction will be 2.67 million.

The figures were revealed in the CITB’s latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report. Other findings included that construction output is set to grow for all nations and regions. However, recession is expected this year with ‘slow growth’ returning in 2024. The major sectors for demand are private housing, infrastructure, and repair and maintenance. 

In Scotland alone, 19,550 extra workers will be required by 2027. CITB Scotland engagement director, Ian Hughes, said, “Construction is vital in developing and strengthening our regional and national economies, and while the industry will certainly face challenges heading into the new year, our report shows there is also a lot of opportunity available for Scotland. Despite the economic challenges, there is still huge demand for more workers in the industry, and it will become even more important to retain our current workforce over the next 18 months.

“There are a range of projects set to bring a steady stream of work into Scotland this year, including the new River Clyde Bridge, Scottish Water’s £5 billion capital investment plans, and £200 million towards Scottish Gas Networks mains replacement, to name a few. These opportunities in the infrastructure and industrial sectors will be major drivers for growth in Scotland.

“Supporting the industry in attracting and retaining talent from right across Scotland will be our main priority, with a particular focus on training routes. There’s no denying we have a major task ahead, but I feel inspired by the resilience shown from industry over the last couple of years and look forward to supporting industry in emerging stronger when the recession ends.”

CITB’s Scottish Academy for Construction Opportunities (SACO) commission has awarded £1.3 million to support 1,000 job-starts across the Highlands and Islands. The funding comes at a time when the Highlands and Islands experience an influx of tourism, highlighting the need to upgrade infrastructure and creating a demand for additional construction workers.

CITB has also awarded The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce £280,000 to deliver a programme of Construction Work Tasters. 2,800 people aged 16-25 will be reached across Scotland, giving them a taste of what it’s like to work in construction.

Skills chair at Construction Scotland, Emma Dickson, said, “Construction careers are wide ranging, from bricklayers and joiners to project managers, planners and engineers; it’s a minefield of opportunity, and can be daunting. Construction Tasters is not only about inspiring young people into construction, but importantly helping them to pinpoint the best role for them in construction.”

Across the UK, CITB said it has invested almost £50 million of Levy cash to support over 22,000 apprentices, while grants have helped support over 16,000 learners to complete their qualifications.

Tim Balcon, CITB chief executive, said, “The latest CSN report clearly shows that despite current economic uncertainty, recruiting and developing the workforce remains vital to ensure the industry can contribute to economic growth. We know the next 18 months won’t be easy, however, I remain inspired by the construction industry’s resilience shown in the pandemic and throughout 2022.

“In short, it makes clear that the need to recruit and retain talent in the sector has never been greater. Whether that’s for building the homes the country needs, constructing energy and transport infrastructure or retrofitting the built environment to help drive down energy bills and meet net zero targets.

“To bolster industry’s resilience, CITB will strive to attract and train a diverse range of recruits for industry, equipping them with modern skills for rewarding construction careers. I look forward to working with and supporting industry and stakeholders in the challenging times ahead and to emerging stronger when the recession ends.”

Further CITB initiatives range from localised solutions for funding and training such as an employer network pilot project, available to more than 3,800 levy-registered construction businesses across five locations in England, Scotland and Wales; to a £10.5 million leadership and management commission which will provide funded courses for businesses to equip supervisors and managers with a recognised qualification.

Tim Balcon added, “This coordinated and comprehensive approach to helping recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, whilst continuing to work collaboratively with industry and stakeholders means CITB will continue to play a central role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy through these challenging times.”