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Homebuilders fear skill shortage as demand grows

The home building sector is taking on trainees again as demand picks up for the first time since the 2008 crash.

Sector leaders’ fear that without investment in training, jobs losses since the recession started could leave the industry with skill shortages as demand for homes rises.

Half of housebuilders and 80 per cent of housing associations are taking on an apprentice in 2013,according to a new Home Building Skills report, following five years in which some 40 per cent of the sector’s jobs had been shed.

The report was produced by the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the National House Building Council (NHBC), the Construction Industry Training Board and the Zero Carbon Hub.

Among its findings were that 33 per cent of home building companies want to spend more on training and more than 25 per cent spent more on training than five years ago, though one-third spent less.

Almost half of respondents, 45 per cent, felt more should be done to ensure the sector has the right skills in place when growth returns.

Better links were needed between housebuilders, educational establishments and the construction industry and the sector must promote itself better to attract school leavers and the best apprentices, respondents said.

NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said: “As the home building industry shows the first signs of growth after several years, we are now hearing increasing alarm about the availability of the right people with the right skills to allow us to maximise these opportunities for growth.”

This concern was echoed by HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley, who said: “As it has done after previous downturns, the industry is now looking to step up and ensure it develops the capacity to build more homes. It is vital we plan now to ensure we have the skills to increase supply to the required level.”

The four organisations have set up a new web portal, which signposts people to training, skills and qualifications in the housing industry.

NHBC training services manager Rob Lockey said: “The portal provides an important pan-industry response to help tackle these skills shortages – to make it faster and easier for existing employees and new entrants to see what skills and qualifications are needed now and in the future, to support their career plans and to get them registering for training as quickly as possible.”

 

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