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Construction industry facing a skills shortage

The construction industry faces a major skills shortage in years to come with employment in the sector expected to fall by 14 per cent in the next 18 months.

The construction industry faces a major skills shortage in years to come with employment in the sector expected to fall by 14 per cent in the next 18 months.

The industry could shed at least 300,000 jobs – from a peak in June 2007 to a trough in early 2010 – because of the economic downturn, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Meanwhile, research by Public and Corporate Economic Consultants for the Local Government Association paints an even more gloomy picture.

Findings suggest that 385,300 out of the 1.9 million people employed by the construction industry in England could lose their jobs before the end of 2010.

It is predicted that the area worst affected will be London, where 23 per cent of the 215,800 workers are expected to be made redundant.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 31,000 construction workers were made redundant in the third quarter of this year.

This is compared with 13,000 redundancies during the second quarter, with the ONS figures showing 61,000 job cuts in total during the first nine months of 2008.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “The economic downturn will hit construction professionals, including quantity surveyors and project managers, plasterers, bricklayers and carpenters.

“As the UK enters a recession it is essential that skills are not lost to the construction sector as people leave and retrain to take up other jobs.”

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association has warned that 17 per cent of engineering staff will be laid off from the sector’s small and medium-sized businesses due to the downturn. CECA says that the cuts will amount to an estimated 8,400 workers.

CECA warned that, in a worst case scenario, construction workers will retrain in other fields and their skills will be permanently lost to the industry.

After the 1990s downturn, it took until 2001 for construction output to return to prerecession levels.

The house building industry is the worst affected, with all the major house builders laying off chunks of their workforce.

Since the beginning of the year Barratt Developments has cut its workforce by 22.5 per cent, Taylor Wimpey by 34 per cent, Persimmon by 36 per cent and Redrow by 40 per cent.


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