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Skills shortage stats hit industry

The number and quality of professional construction recruits is falling warns the Construction Skills All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
No less than 70% of construction professional services (CPS) firms believe a shortage of recruits is the biggest problem facing the £13.9 billion industry. On November 21, the APPG debated this issue raised by research done by the Construction Industry Council.

The research shows 74% of CPS firms found job applicants lack the necessary technical skills. In addition 50-60% of all CPS firms expect to face recruitment difficulties over the next year.

The CIC research found 40%-53% of CPS firms had 'hard to fill' vacancies. The main cause of recruitment difficulties was a low number of applicants with the required skills. CPS employers believe that the quality of recruits who are either graduate level, part-qualified members of professional institutions or trained to other levels has declined.

The research is based upon two latest CIC surveys; the UK Construction Professional Services Survey and the Built Environment Professional Skills Survey, which analysed 800 CPS firms employing 45,000 full-time employees and 357 CPS firms employing 7630 full-time employees respectively.

The UK CPS sector, which includes professions such as engineering, architecture and surveying, employs 270,000 people and requires 12,340 competent new professionals entering the industry every year to meet the current growth rate.

As major projects such as the Olympics gather speed, there is more pressure on the industry because 20% of current CPS professionals could retire in the next 10 years.

With student numbers on built environment courses having dropped by 28% since 2003/4, the industry is focusing upon attracting high calibre young professionals into the sector.

The APPG meeting discussed what needs to be done to join up industry and academia to encourage more young people to consider built environment-related degree courses and to ensure that these meet the needs of today's CPS employers.

Nick Raynsford MP, deputy chair, Construction Skills APPG, said: 'Considering the scale of building, infrastructure and regeneration projects currently being planned or already underway across the country it is vital that we have enough qualified and experienced people to deliver the programme'.

ConstructionSkills is the sector skills council for the construction industry. It is UK-wide and represents the whole industry from professional consultancies to major contractors and SMEs.

The construction sector generates almost 9% of UK GDP and has a turnover of more than £203bn a year. It employs 2.5m people and requires a further 87,600 new entrants per year to 2011, according to the the Construction Skills Network.

The research findings will be presented in detail on December 4 at One Whitehall Place, Westminster.
21 November 2007

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