Posted 24/09/2018 by Emma Blair


Four leading authority figures have voiced their concerns about the skills shortage in the UK’s construction and engineering sectors.

As was reported in our previous skills shortage piece, there is a major shortfall facing the industry which could have a huge impact on the UK.


Ann Watson, chief executive of Semta (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance), Sarah Beale, chief executive of the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board), Amanda Clark, president of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Michael Brown, Deputy Chief Executive at the CIOB (Chartered Institute for Building) have admitted that supply isn’t currently fitting demand.

Ms Watson says that we must start looking at the school system, but that means employers getting involved too. She said:

We need to be starting much earlier. We need children of primary-school age to be given the opportunity to see what a modern cutting-edge engineering workplace looks like.

While the Government has prioritised a focus on work experience for pupils aged 16 to 18, by then it’s often too late.

So many young people who have an engineering skill and aptitude are lost to the sector because they’re not given that encouragement earlier.

It’s not just about work placements. It’s even more important that at school they are not receiving negative messages about the sector.

Meanwhile, Mr Brown is a big fan of the apprenticeship levy. He said 

It is encouraging that there are still a number of construction companies taking on apprentices, particularly when many are suffering with reduced margins and workloads.

Moreover, it is positive to see the construction industry delivering long-term apprenticeship training, with many being offered further opportunities to build upon these skills.

Ms Beale was also optimistic the shortage can be addressed if the correct modernisation takes place. She said:

Construction’s continued growth, forecast to average 1.3 per cent over the next five years, along with news that employment will rise for the fourth year running is encouraging.

However to recruit the extra 158,000 construction workers required to meet demand by 2022, industry must collaborate on a range of skills and recruitment challenges.

UK construction needs to boost apprenticeships and work placements. It also has to reduce the skills supply gap and accelerate the pace of modernisation. As part of this, CITB needs to reform and modernise swiftly too, as demonstrated in the feedback during our biggest ever Levy consultation.

In my first year as CITB Chief Executive I have seen excellent work to boost skills and employment across the UK.

In Scotland the Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme continues to go from strength to strength with over 5,000 modern apprentices currently in training.

Meanwhile, Ms Clark added:

We need a long term programme is needed to evolve the skills and practices of the sector in line with cultural and technological change. This would be done to attract a more diverse workforce and take advantage of efficiencies offered by new ways of building.

We also need a new pathway for entry into the sector at a post graduate level for established professionals wanting to transition into the construction sector, with appropriate levels of higher apprenticeship funding.


Does any of this ring true to you? If you have an opinion on the current skills shortage we'd love to hear from you!

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