To meet demand, the UK will require extra construction employees

Construction has faced many challenges throughout the pandemic and, during 2020, concerns were mostly about how the industry would survive the impact of lockdowns and supply chain struggles. However, as we near the end of 2021 it’s clear that the construction sector has staged a far quicker recovery than many thought would be the case. But what does that mean in terms of demand in the coming years?

A return to previous output levels

The construction industry is expected to return to 2019 output levels by 2022, which is great news in terms of the recovery of this vital part of the British economy. However, this also means that there will be a significant spike in the number of people who are needed in the industry. According to recent figures published by the CITB as part of its Construction Skills Network, 217,000 new workers will need to be recruited into the sector by 2025 just to meet demand. Wood trades and interior fit-out is forecast to be the most in-demand profession in construction, followed by construction managers, electrical installation trades and office-based staff and IT professionals.

What is driving the spike in demand?

Big projects, such as HS2, are having a sizeable impact on demand across the construction industry in the UK. Residential housing is another big growth area that will continue to demand more from the sector in the coming years as the government seeks to meet house building targets. Repair, maintenance and improvement work is also beginning to have a significant impact on demand in construction. This is especially so as zero-emissions targets become increasingly important and many businesses and individuals start looking at retrofitting existing buildings to ensure that green goals are going to be met.

Regional figures

Although demand for new talent is likely to affect the entire construction sector nationwide there are also some clear hot spots where the rise in construction workers will be more noticeable. According to the CSN, the East Midlands will experience the largest rise in construction workers (1.7%) followed by the West Midlands (1.4%) and Scotland (1.4%). The North-East is the only region where the number of construction workers is forecast to fall.

It’s not all good news

Although the increase in demand is being driven by a number of different parts of the construction sector, there are also some areas that are still struggling in terms of returning to former levels of activity. Commercial, in particular, is facing some sizable short term risks. There could also be a knock-on impact of smaller government budgets when it comes to public sector construction.

Construction demand in the UK is set to rise and this is good news for many in the industry. Despite some sectors lagging behind, the output is forecast to grow annually at 4.4% between now and 2025. While that’s great news for many businesses it’s also going to require some attention in terms of how extra construction employees can be found to meet that demand.

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