The British construction sector is set to receive a £17.8m injection of support for training and retraining more skilled workers to help the industry face the skills challenges of the future.
The Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Onsite Experience Commission will help the construction industry tackle the skills gap by providing 18,000 site-ready workers and help it to grow more of its own workforce. The industry is being invited to apply for funding over the coming months.
“This major investment will build on the success of the Construction Skills Fund and represents an historic investment in training a site-ready workforce for construction employers across Britain,” said CITB Chief Executive Sarah Beale, announcing the new money in Ipswich at an industry-led conference on delivering sustainable homes.
The investment will be shared across England, Scotland and Wales.
In Wales, the focus will be on ensuring full-time construction students are site-ready. Three areas aligned with city regions will receive £3.6m over 3 years.
Commenting on the Onsite Experience Commission CITB Wales’ Partnerships Director Mark Bodger said: “This investment is great news for Welsh construction. Employers have told us that a lack of on-site experience is a barrier to recruitment; CITB’s Onsite Experience Commission will address that concern and help ensure the next generation of construction workers in Wales will have the training needed to become site and work-ready. This will benefit not only the construction sector in Wales but communities across the country and the economy as a whole.”
CITB funds will be invested across South East, South West and North Wales. The intervention will target 3,000 individuals. At least 50% of those targeted will gain an opportunity to become work-ready. The remainder will be focussed on improving an individual’s employability upon completion of construction courses. CITB’s Construction Skills Network (CSN) forecast shows that Wales will require 6,550 workers by 2023.
Sarah Beale added: “Onsite Experience comes at a critical time for construction when it will need to grow more of its own workforce. Within CITB’s ‘Big Six’ initiatives this element supports British construction to recruit its future workforce. Other attraction-related activity includes a major careers campaign and substantially increased support for employers taking on apprentices.”
CITB’s CSN report shows that UK construction requires 165,000 skilled people to enter the industry over the next five years.
“Meeting demand for new homes and investing in infrastructure requires more skilled people in construction,” Sarah Beale continued. “We face the perfect storm of an uncertain post-Brexit migration system, and an ageing workforce with many set to retire in the near future. It is therefore essential that the industry attracts, trains, and retains new talent wherever it can be found to ensure construction isn’t hampered by a shortage of site-ready workers.”
Over the next three years 20 new hubs will be established on construction sites across England, Scotland and Wales, tailored to provide training in trades where particular shortages have been identified and connecting new talent with educators and employers. Each hub will develop links between employers, colleges and local government to meet locally identified skills needs.
Many of the hubs will be in rural and “left behind” areas that have not benefitted from the earlier and complementary Construction Skills Fund (CSF). They will draw on lessons learned from the CSF, which has already exceeded many of its targets.
Sarah Beale concluded: “Britain urgently needs more construction workers and more opportunities for people from every background and every region. I am confident that by making its largest ever investment in the onsite experience commission, CITB can provide the construction industry with the modern workforce it needs to become more inclusive, more sustainable, and construct a better Britain.”
22 July 2019: expressions of interest open
19 August 2019: full applications open
27 September 2019: deadline for expressions of interest
11 October 2019: deadline for applications