CITB industry forecast says 251,500 extra construction workers needed

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The construction industry has taken a bit of a battering over the last six months, but maybe green shoots pave the way now with the annual industry forecast from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) highlighting the gap between the workforce and the jobs needed in the future.

The report has identified a persistent gap between what the UK needs to keep up with demand and the workforce available to meet the challenge for tradesmen and women although has been reporting a series of carpenters bricklayers and other trades not having the same volume of work this year compared to the last two years. Many workers who were normally onsite have switched to smaller domestic works just to keep going as many larger sites have been mothballed and even smaller builders are reporting to us that clients cannot get the funding for extensions and loft conversions because of the cost of borrowing.

CITB are insistent that 2024 will return to growth and that we will need more skills so is investing heaving though it’s funding pool of money as reported by

The UK’s construction output:

  • Rose by 2% in 2023, the third consecutive year of growth
  • Will grow by an average 2.4% a year between now and 2028

To meet this growth, an equivalent of more than 251,500 extra construction workers are needed over the next five years, with construction employment rising to 2.75m by 2028

The major opportunities are in:

  • Private housing
  • Infrastructure
  • Repair and maintenance

CITB’s Construction Skills Network (CSN) 2024-28 report reveals that:

Despite the industry managing to recruit around 200,000 people every year, in 2023, an average of 38,000 vacancies were advertised per month. For almost a third (31%) of construction employers, finding suitably skilled staff remains their key challenge, particularly with more older workers retiring and not being replaced.

Although the construction industry welcomed 200,000 new workers, it saw the loss of more (210,000 workers). With the ongoing difference between the predicted need for construction work and the available workforce, CITB’s forecast shows how important it is for the industry to tackle the issues with effective recruitment and training to replace those leaving and better prepare for the future, as well as to take advantage of key opportunities such as productivity improvements and meeting net zero retrofit targets.

In response to the challenges, CITB has invested £267m to help the industry improve diversity, quality and productivity as well as making construction a more attractive career choice for future generations. Among the areas this investment will directly support are three expanded initiatives to help employers meet demand head on:

  • New Entrant Support Team (NEST) – helping employers to better navigate the recruitment process, access grants and suitable training, when and where needed
  • Industry Impact Fund – making direct funding available for employers to design and test new solutions for talent recruitment and retention challenges
  • Employer Network – rolling this out across Great Britain, to enable local employers to set their own funding priorities and meet area-specific skills needs.

CITB Chief Executive Tim Balcon, commented saying that: “The UK construction industry will continue to grow, but needs more people in the workforce with the right skills. There has always been a demand for workers, and CITB’s CSN report drives home how many are leaving the sector compared to those joining, and the opportunities for employers to address this challenge by recruiting and developing a skilled, competent, and diverse workforce that is able to meet current and future needs.

“The ‘people pipeline’ is critical to sector growth, but other improvements are also important, including productivity and technological innovation. This is why our commitment to investing over £267m to ensure the skills system is fit for purpose – now and in the future – is so significant.

“The past few years have posed many challenges for the industry and as a sector we have shown significant resilience. 2024 and beyond hosts a more positive outlook and through a joined-up approach to recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, CITB will continue to play a crucial role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy.”