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Danger From Skills Shortages Warns FMB

Skills shortages in the building industry are affecting the economic recovery, according to a recent survey from the Federation of Master Builders

The report is the work of Experian and was commissioned by the FMB. It is compiled quarterly using a random rolling sample of FMB member firms. The results reflect balances, i.e. the number of firms reporting a rise in workload against the number of firms showing no change, or a fall. Experian believes this gives a qualitative, as opposed to quantitative, overview.

“More than a third of construction small to medium enterprises (SMEs) tell us that they are struggling to recruit the bricklayers they need to stay on top of their workloads,” explained Brian Berry, Chief Executive, FMB. “Plasterers are almost as difficult to come by with 27% of firms saying they are having difficulty finding these skilled tradesmen. The results act as a stark warning that the government must not take the recovery in the construction sector for granted. Although this snapshot of small construction firms marks the fifth consecutive quarter of positive results, if we don’t have enough of the right people to complete the work, private and public projects could be stalled across the board.”

Berry went on to state that looking ahead, construction SMEs were still “hugely concerned” about the impact of the government’s apprenticeship funding reforms. “If they are implemented as proposed, most micro-businesses, which currently train two-thirds of all construction apprentices, are likely to stop hiring apprentices altogether,” Berry warned.

The forecast by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) was that 182,000 new UK jobs were expected to be created in the construction sector by 2018. Berry argued that this was not the time to “jeopardise the ability of small firms to continue their proud history of training apprentices. Not only would this be disastrous for the construction sector itself and the hundreds of thousands of young people who are currently seeking employment, it would also be disastrous for the wider economy which is largely relying on construction and housing to drive the recovery.”

Skills shortages in the UK construction sector could have a serious impact on delivering good quality during the recovery period.

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