The construction industry was hit particularly hard by the UK’s economic recession. Work dried up, meaning many skilled tradesmen were made redundant. However, the industry has picked itself back up, leading to a ‘skills timebomb’.
The lack of skilled tradesmen means that the existing workers are bumping up their hourly wages. Official data shows that the number of bricklayers claiming jobseeker’s allowance has dropped to the lowers level in a decade.
What’s more, construction worker’s annual wages were up 4% in July. This makes the construction industry one of the strongest sectors in the UK for pay growth.
Steve Radley, the CITB’s policy director, says employers need to capitalise on the upturn and help drive up the number of skilled workers.
“There’s a serious and developing skills shortage, and industry has come out of one of the most serious downturns it has seen for a century,” he says.
“The swing from bust to boom has been stronger than elsewhere, and industry has not traditionally planned ahead well.”
Radley is optimistic, however, that planning weakness could change. “We do feel like we have got a lot more visibility about infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, and that allows industry to plan ahead.”
To encourage more young people into the industry, schools must help lead their students towards vocational paths, rather than constantly focusing on academia.
It is integral that schools and teachers become more understanding of the huge variety of trades out there that open up multiple opportunities for young people today.