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Infrastructure pipeline needs 100,000 recruits

Infrastructure UK’s long-awaited National Infrastructure Plan for Skills has set out a need to recruit and train 100,000 extra workers in the sector by 2020.

Infrastructure UK’s long-awaited National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) for Skills says Britain must recruit and train 100,000 new construction personnel by 2020.

The Treasury document also warns that 250,000 people already working in the sector would need to be retrained and taught new skills over the next
10 years.

Published by Treasury division Infrastructure UK, the NIP for Skills aims to set out the exact nature of the skills deficit facing the construction industry. It followed publication of a 564-project pipeline of civils work worth £411bn which is due to start from April this year.

On top of the huge requirement for skilled workers over the coming years, the report found that labour market mobility was compromised by a lack of detail on demand and supply, and by fragmented approaches to skills planning.

“This report is just the first step,” said Treasury commercial secretary Lord O’Neill. “It sets out the scale of the challenge. Over the coming months, we will consult with stakeholders across industry, government, academia and training providers to build a series of detailed actions to address the skills challenge.”

London alone needs 15,700 extra workers to meet demand over the next five years, says the report, adding that the capital faces challenges attracting them.

“London has seen significant movement of workers from elsewhere in the UK to service demand,” it says.

“With infrastructure output around the country expected to increase rapidly over the coming years, there is a risk that this supply of workers may not be as large as previously thought. This situation is exacerbated by the relatively high cost of living in London, which makes it difficult for some workers to afford to live in the capital.”

Meanwhile the report called for a major campaign to recruit a generation of northern construction workers to carry out the infrastructure works needed to create the so-called Northern Powerhouse.

Investment in the road and rail networks linking major cities in the region, along with fracking and other schemes, will create a need for 14,000 new workers over the next five years, the report claims.

The Midlands will require 12,900 new workers in that time period - almost three new entrants for every 10 people already in the sector. A key challenge for the region is attracting and retaining workers in the period before High Speed 2 starts on site.

Elsewhere, the East of England requires 3,300 workers over the next five years, and the South West 3,600.

In the rail sector, across England, 15,300 new skilled tradespeople and labourers will be needed by 2020, along with 5,100 engineering and technical staff, 2,400 construction managers and 1,300 client and project leaders.

On the roads, 7,000 skilled tradespeople and labourers will be required, 4,500 engineering and technical staff, 2,800 construction managers and 800 client and project leaders.

The greatest demand for engineering and technical staff will come from the utilities, who will suck up 7,100 extra people by 2018, according to the report.

Companies working in this sector will also need 12,500 skilled trades and labourers, plus 3,700 construction managers and 2,100 client and project leaders.

In the energy sector, 8,400 skilled tradespeople and labourers will be needed, but all the other roles could be filled by existing workers, according to IUK.

The key challenges to meeting these increased levels of demand were summarised by IUK as:

  • Providing leadership and coordination
  • Improving data on supply and demand
  • Incentivising skills investment through procurement
  • Improving mobility and upskilling the existing workforce
  • Encouraging young people and greater diversity

“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,” said O’Neill.

“This report is just the first step in addressing how we can work with industry to ensure our workforce’s competitiveness for the future.
“We’ll now develop a clear action plan, set to not only strengthen the economy by delivering our most ambitious projects from transport to energy, but improve the quality of citizens’ lives too.”

 

 

The Treasury report also warned that 250,000 people already working in the sector would need to be retrained and taught new skills over the next 10 years.

Published by Treasury division Infrastructure UK, the NIP for Skills is designed to set out the exact nature of the skills deficit facing the construction industry. It follows publication of a £411bn, 564-project pipeline of civils work from April this year.

On top of the huge requirement for skilled workers over the coming years, the report found that labour market mobility was compromised by a lack of detail on demand and supply, and by fragmented approaches to skills planning.

Commercial secretary to the Treasury Lord O’Neill said: “This report is just the first step. It sets out the scale of the challenge. Over the coming months, we will consult with stakeholders across industry, government, academia and training providers to build a series of detailed actions to address the skills challenge.”

London alone will require 15,700 extra workers to meet demand over the next five years, the report said, and faces challenges attracting them.

“London has seen significant movement of workers from elsewhere in the UK to service demand,” it said. “With infrastructure output around the country expected to increase rapidly over the coming years, there is a risk that this supply of workers may not be as large as previously. This situation is exacerbated by the relatively high cost of living in London, which makes it difficult for some workers to afford to live in the capital.”

Meanwhile the report called for a major campaign to recruit a generation of northern construction workers to carry out the infrastructure works needed to create the so-called Northern Powerhouse.

Investment in the road and rail network linking major cities in the region, along with fracking and other schemes, will create a need for 14,000 new workers over the next five years, the report claimed.

The Midlands will itself require 12,900 new workers in that time period – almost three new entrants for every 10 people already in the sector. A key challenge for the region, identified in the report, is attracting and retaining workers in the period before High Speed 2 starts on site.

Elsewhere, the East of England requires 3,300 workers over the next five years, and the South West 3,600.

In the rail sector, across England, 15,300 new skilled tradespeople and labourers will be needed by 2020, along with 5,100 engineering and technical staff, 2,400 construction managers and 1,300 client and project leaders.

On the roads, 7,000 skilled tradespeople and labourers will be required, 4,500 engineering and technical staff, 2,800 construction managers and 800 client and project leaders.

The greatest demand for engineering and technical staff will come from the utilities, who will suck up 7,100 extra by 2018. They will also need 12,500 skilled trades and labourers, along with 3,700 construction managers and 2,100 client and project leaders.

In the energy sector, 8,400 skilled tradespeople and labourers will be needed but all the other roles could be filled by existing workers, according to IUK.

The key challenges to meeting these increased levels of demand were summarised by IUK as:

  • Providing leadership and coordination
  • Improving data on supply and demand
  • Incentivising skills investment through procurement
  • Improving mobility and upskilling the existing workforce
  • Encouraging young people and greater diversity

O’Neill 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.

“We’ll now develop a clear action plan, set to not only strengthen the economy by delivering our most ambitious projects from transport to energy, but improve the quality of citizen’s lives too.”

 

Readers' comments (2)

  • The NIP Report on skills says that the government will "enshrine the term ‘apprenticeship’ in law to protect the brand and recognise apprenticeships as a career path equal to higher education."

    It is a pity that they will not also enshrine in law the term "Chartered Engineer" to protect the brand and recognise Chartered Engineers.

    Eur. ing. Roger R Ball BSc CEng FICE

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  • Just to correct Roger; 'Chartered Engineer' is a fully protected title under law in the UK by virtue of the Royal Charter held by the Engineering Council. But as well know, 'engineer' can be used by anyone and there is no restriction on the right to practice as an engineer in the UK. The 'war' for 'engineer' was lost many years ago, no point battling now.

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