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North-west 'needs 5,000 new construction workers a year'

More than 5,000 workers will need to be recruited every year in the North-west until 2021 – more than any other region in the UK, a report by the CITB has found.

The training board’s latest Construction Skills Network report predicted that the North-west would need to recruit 5,140 workers annually for the next five years.

In contrast, London will require 3,870 recruits each year.

Demand for workers in the North-west will result from an expected 2.5 per cent annual growth in construction output, higher than the national average of 1.7 per cent, according to the report.

CITB head of policy Steve Radley said this growth was down to buoyant infrastructure, commercial and residential markets, including ongoing projects at the University of Manchester and Media City in Salford.

“I think with the North-West, it is a more of a balanced picture than some of the other regions,” he said.

“The growth forecasts generally reflect the fact that it is a very dynamic part of the UK. I think they have managed to make localism work very well there, so it is a good business environment, good overall economic growth and a number of good projects that would support construction.”

Number of new construction workers needed each year 2017-21_Construction Skills Report_link

Number of new construction workers needed each year 2017-21_Construction Skills Report_link

The South-west will require the second highest number of workers over the next five years, with the construction of Hinkley Point C the primary reason why 4,180 new workers will be needed in the region each year until 2021.

Despite these regional hotspots, the forecast annual recruitment requirement for the UK industry as a whole is down 23 per cent compared with last year’s Construction Skills Network report to stand at 35,740.

Output projections have also been revised, with average industry growth of 1.7 per cent now expected over the next five years, down from 2.5 per cent.

Wales is expected to see the highest level of growth, with construction output set to increase by an estimated 6.6 per cent a year through to 2021, according to the latest forecasts.

The South-west is forecast to record the second highest level of annual growth at 3.1 per cent, with the North-west third.

Scotland is expected to see its construction output shrink over the next five years, with a number of major infrastructure projects such as the Queensferry Crossing coming to an end.

Nearly half of total UK construction growth will be down to infrastructure. The sector, currently responsible for 15 per cent of total industry output, is expected to account for 45 per cent of output growth over the forecast period.

Infrastructure is set to grow by an average of 5.4 per cent each year, including an expected growth of 10 per cent in 2019.

A large proportion of infrastructure growth will be down to major projects such as High Speed 2 and the planned multi-billion-pound nuclear new-build programme.

The CITB warned that any delays to major projects could significantly impact on the sector’s growth forecasts and skills requirements.

Last week, the main backer of the £10bn Moorside nuclear plant, Toshiba, said it was reconsidering its investment in nuclear projects outside of Japan, while Hinkley Point C developer EDF has warned of potential delays to projects following the Brexit vote.

Mr Radley said: “The risk is obviously that if these projects do get delayed or even cancelled then you can really knock a hole in the forecast.

“In nuclear, steel fixers will play a big role. If they go ahead as planned, the projects are nicely sequenced and we can see workers moving from one project to the other. If there are delays, and they get squeezed together, the pressure on skills will be more of a concern.”

More than 5,240 non-construction professionals will be needed by the industry in each of the next five years.

The sector will also need to recruit 5,240 wood trade and interior fit-out workers, and 1,600 bricklayers a year up to 2021.

An average of 1,550 new recruits will be needed annually to fill new senior, executive and business process manager roles.

 

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