Britain’s construction skills shortage is down to the UK training too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers, the chair of the Local Government Association’s Housing Board has claimed.
Councillor Peter Box made the claim after new analysis by the LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, revealed a growing mismatch between the construction industry’s increasing demand for skills and a falling number of people gaining construction qualifications.
While the construction industry’s forecasted annual recruitment need is up 54% from 2013, there are 10,000 fewer construction qualifications being awarded by colleges, apprenticeships and universities.
A recent survey conducted by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) found Two thirds of small UK building firms are being forced to turn down business due to a lack of bricklayers, carpenters and plasterers.
The LGA is calling on Government to work with the construction industry, councils and education providers to develop a national ‘Skills to Build’ strategy to solve the growing shortage, delivered locally through the devolution process.
Cllr Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s Housing Board, said: “For too long we’ve trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers.
“Too few apprentices are getting the construction skills to build the homes and roads our local communities need and developers are struggling to recruit skilled labour to build new homes.
“Industry is clear that skills gaps are one of their greatest barriers to building. If we are to see the homes desperately needed across the country built and jobs and apprenticeships created, councils must be given a leading role.
“Skills demand will always vary significantly across the country. For example, the Northwest is desperate for bricklayers while the West Midlands have a higher demand for wood trades and interior fitters.
“Councils are best-placed to understand the needs of their residents and local economies but have no influence over skills training and employment support in their area.
“In return for increased funding and powers, councils, schools, colleges and employers could work together to reduce unemployment, close this widening construction skills gap and ramp up housebuilding.”