An extra 266,000 workers will be required to meet projected UK construction demand by 2026 (53,200 workers per year).

Over a quarter of a million additional construction workers will be needed by 2026 to meet growing demand in the industry, the latest Construction Skills Network report finds.

With job vacancies at a record high, and unemployment at its lowest level in 50 years, the report forecasts that recruitment and developing a highly-skilled workforce will be the biggest challenge construction will face over the next five years.

If projected growth is met, construction employment could reach a high of nearly 2.78 million workers by 2026. The largest increases in annual demand are expected to be for occupations such as carpenters and joiners; construction managers, along with a range of technical roles. These include electronics technicians, civil engineering technicians, estimators and valuers, as well as office-based support staff. 

This comes as CITB urges industry and government to come together in refreshing the way the industry hires and trains, making construction an attractive place for everyone to work.  

CITB CEO, Tim Balcon, said: “Construction is vital in supporting the backbone of the UK economy. These future growth projections are encouraging after the stalling effects of the pandemic. However, this is set against a current backdrop of higher energy costs, material shortages, and associated price inflation that is currently hitting companies across the sector.    

“The industry has a lot to offer, and there is so much potential to engage in a career that sees you enter the industry as an apprentice and leave it as a CEO. The industry needs to use its many strengths to attract and retain top talent in a competitive recruitment landscape

“Training routes into the industry will be a focus for us and we have to attract and retain those that are under-represented – in particular women and those from ethnic minorities.  It will be a major task, but construction needs to evolve and reach its untapped potential for the national economy and our competitiveness on a global scale.” 

In CITB’s Business Plan,2 launched last month, three core challenges are set out. These challenges, which reflect the views of employers and a wide variety of stakeholders, are:

  • Responding to the skills demands  
  • Developing the capacity and capability of construction training provision 
  • Addressing future skills needs. 

The plan shows how CITB will invest over £233 million across Britain to support construction throughout 2022/23. 

CITB will create more accessible routes into construction, with a focus on apprenticeships providing first-hand experience of working on site through work experiences, tasters and on-site experience hubs.

This year, a total of £110 million in training grants reaching 14,000 businesses is available. This includes £60.3 million in direct grants to employers who take on apprentices, supporting the industry to address its current and future need for a skilled workforce.