A Prince’s Trust and HSBC report shared with Construction News shows more than a third of construction business leaders fear their firms could fold due to the skills crisis.
The survey found that more than three-quarters of business leaders in construction believe a significant skills crisis will hit their firms within the next three years and 45 per cent of those surveyed predict this will happen within the next year.
Three in four construction bosses surveyed fear skills shortages will slam the brakes on the UK’s economic recovery (77 per cent) and more than a third fear this will cause their business to fold (36 per cent).
The survey was carried out in May and June by research agency Loudhouse and consisted of 616 interviews across the whole of the UK, of which 103 business leaders (of companies with more than 500 employees) were in the construction industry.
More than half of construction employers surveyed say the sector is already experiencing skills gaps and 47 per cent have been unable to fill vacancies due to skills shortages (47 per cent).
With a third of construction firms reporting skills shortages at entry level (33 per cent), youth charity The Prince’s Trust is calling on employers to invest in vocational training for unemployed young people to avoid future skills shortages.
Martina Milburn CBE, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust called the results “deeply concerning” when hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people were “desperate for work”.
Ms Milburn said: “The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, UK plc needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future.
“We are already working with a number of leading construction businesses – including Balfour Beatty and Costain – to up-skill the workforce of the future and get unemployed young people into jobs. Today, we are urging others within the industry to take action to prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.”
64% - report increased demand for their services over the past 12 months
56% - are growing faster than this time last year
60% - say faster growth is the cause of current skills gaps in the UK
41% - have concerns over ageing workforce
83% - say recruitment of young people is vital to avert a skills crisis
Mark Peters, head of secretariat at Balfour Beatty said: “With high levels of youth unemployment, employability and employment are primary areas of focus for the Balfour Beatty Charitable Trust.
“If we are to avoid the risk of a lost generation, we believe it is essential we actively engage with other organisations that can really make a positive contribution to improving the prospects for our young people. The Prince’s Trust meets that requirement.”
The Prince’s Trust aims to help 58,000 unemployed young people this year, providing vocational training in sectors with identified skills shortages such as construction, retail and logistics.
In response to the survey, it called for more employers to help increase the number of young people it can support this year.
Balfour Beatty and Costain are already working with The Prince’s Trust, which has supported more than 750,000 young people since its establishment in 1976.