The construction sector will be unable to replace the workers expected to leave the industry, a parliamentary select committee has been warned.
Fergus Harradence, deputy director for construction at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said the indusry would be unable to replace workers without increasing its appeal to women and younger workers.
Giving evidence to the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, Mr Harradence said construction needed to radical change to meet demand in the next decade against the backdrop of a dwindling labour pool.
He said: “There is simply no way, in the level of demographic change that they [construction firms] face, that they will be able to recruit the number of workers to maintain the labour-intensive business model.”
Mr Harradence stated that 50 per cent of the construction workforce was aged over 50 and would look to either retire or scale down their work commitments in the coming decade.
He said: “It is a plausible assumption that one third of people are likely to retire; other people will obviously move out of the industry.
“The level of recruitment we’ve seen in the industry has been significant, but it is not going to compensate for the people leaving.
“There are simply not enough young people who want to work in construction in the UK.”
Mr Harrdence’s comments come after a report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in September advised the government to restrict the number of lower-skilled EU workers who could enter the UK after Brexit.
Under current definitions, construction site trades are classed as lower-skilled.
The MAC was instructed by the government to assess the economic and social impacts of immigration and set out recommendations for the post-Brexit system.
Also giving evidence, Construction Products Association chief executive Diana Montgomery said one way to improve productivity was to link investment or innovation to major projects such as Crossrail.
She said: “Certain businesses are standing out – SMEs, because they are more agile, are starting to pick up the themes, and are looking at how their businesses are structured.
“We do well off the back of major projects, we had a lot [of opportunities] off the back of London 2012, and the same with Crossrail.”