The Government’s commitment to build 300,000 new homes each year and £170m of funding for a Sector Deal for construction should give our industry the confidence and the firepower to make the investments needed to transform its performance.
The right skills will be critical to deliver this change, so the £34 million funding for construction training is vital in addressing the skills shortage. There is no quick fix to home building challenge and construction skills must be of a high standard. CITB will be working with Government to ensure this investment complements the ‘cash in, skills out’ approach industry has called for.
The focus in the Budget on digital skills is essential to develop a workforce which exploits the benefits of the digital revolution to modernise construction and boost its productivity. Our Modern Methods of Construction report shows that 16% of employers already use offsite construction, representing 10% of construction’s total output. This is set to grow in the next five years, with 42% of larger construction employers estimated to be using offsite construction by 2022.
A new sector deal for construction
Embracing new ways of working across the industry will also act as a catalyst for change in addressing the skills issues we currently face. According to subcontractors, the biggest workforce barriers to growth in home building are recruitment (50%) retention (25%) and training (14%). A new sector deal for construction, focused on modernisation and skills, will allow the industry to attract more people, as new technologies and roles emerge that make the sector more attractive to a new, more diverse generation of talent.
We will work with our industry, government and training providers to find innovative ways to train the workforce to meet the modernisation challenge – such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (part of the University of Sheffield) that uses augmented reality to reduce training costs, as well as the time taken to learn innovative new industry skills.
Construction as an enabler for growth
The Government’s injection of funding is also a crucial acknowledgement of the importance of construction as an enabler of growth. Sustainable investment in the housing and infrastructure pipelines will give employers the confidence they need to plan ahead and explore new ways of working with their supply chain to upskill the workforce.
We look forward to working closely with employers and Government to ensure these promising new measures deliver for our industry.
About the author
Steve Radley is Director of Policy at CITB.
His previous roles include Director of Policy and External Affairs at the Manufacturers organisation, EEF, Chief Economist at the Henley Centre and Policy Adviser – Education and Training at the Confederation of British Industry.