St. Modwen Homes

Education & Future Skills

More public-private partnerships needed to address skills shortage in UK construction

St. Modwen Homes has partnered with the Chartered Institute for Further Education to commission a new report looking at the chronic skills shortage in the UK’s construction sector and to find innovative solutions to attract, retain and develop talent. 

The ‘Building the UK of the Future’ report, which can be downloaded here, focuses on four key recommendations, and highlights trailblazing initiatives that could be introduced more widely across the sector. The four key areas are: training in the construction industry, the role businesses play in developing the construction workforce, attracting skilled talent, and retaining talent for the future. 

Key stats 

  • 168,500 new jobs required in UK construction by 2023 
  • 400,000 construction workers could retire in the next five to 10 years 
  • 2.79m UK construction jobs expected in 2023 
  • 100% of levels 6-7 apprenticeships receive no government funding 
  • 500 extra apprentices predicted to enter the construction workforce each year 
  • 42% decrease in people employed without a qualification between 2019 and 2024 

Training for the construction industry 

The report highlights the issue of a skills shortage both in new entrants to the sector and those within the existing workforce. This supports data shared by employers struggling to recruit those with the specialist skills or knowledge needed to capably perform the role. 

Despite this, further education (FE) providers and businesses are seeking alternative training routes, qualifications and teaching methods in a drive to recruit and upskill construction talent – for example, higher and degree-level apprenticeships. 48,000 higher level apprenticeships (level 4+) started in 2017/18, compared with just 4,000 in 2011/12.  

The report calls on the Government to provide additional funding solutions for the training sector, including support for construction infrastructure in colleges, so that businesses and trainers can plan and invest appropriately to attract and upskill talent. 

The role of business in developing the construction workforce 

Highlighting the need for further partnerships between businesses, FE providers and local authorities, the report shines a light on how organisations can be better equipped – and better draw on available funding – to build education partnerships that benefit new and existing construction employees. 

The report highlights examples such as St. Modwen Homes’ partnership with Burton and South Derbyshire College, in which it is supporting a range of initiatives from site-based work experience to bursaries for training employers – keeping talented educators in teaching roles. 

Attracting talent 

FE and technical education have always suffered over Higher Education (University) by being undervalued. This has a knock-on effect on the construction sector, which depends on this technical training to recruit new talent.  

The construction sector, like many of the high employment sectors such as hospitality, care and logistics, is often seen as being a Cinderella industry – parents aren’t impressed, it is not seen as a desirable industry but as a non-aspirational sector from the outside world. It needs to change.” 

Mark Currie, Executive Director, Mantra Learning 

Despite this, the report highlights how employers and training providers are working together to improve the perception of the sector and to make the industry accessible to a more diverse talent base, including promotion in primary schools and new sector pathways for women. 

Retaining talent 

With 400,000 workers leaving the industry during the economic downturn, and a further 400,000 set to retire in the next five to 10 years, there is real concern as to how the industry can maintain the required workforce to keep up with future output demands. 

The report looks at some of the key concerns around retaining talent including environmental factors, such as the physical nature of the work, that may prevent long and healthy careers in the sector. In addition, workplace benefits and wellbeing have also become increasingly important, ensuring that workers are in secure, sustainable and supportive roles.  

The report recommends that SMEs should be supported to increase their offering in workplace benefits and wellbeing, providing an improved work-life balance to colleagues, supporting an aging workforce, and introducing initiatives such as job sharing. 

Learn more about St. Modwen’s Education & Future Skills ambitions here 

Download the full report 

Learn more about St. Modwen Homes