New research by the Construction Industry Training Board predicts the creation of up to 20,000 new jobs in the construction sector in the East of England over the next five years, but anticipates a subsequent hiatus.
These latest figures from the rolling five-year forecast produced by the Construction Skills Network show a noteworthy increase on last year’s figures, which predicted a growth of just 14,000 roles within the sector by 2020.
Nevertheless, the Brexit vote has cast some doubt over the future of the industry, causing CITB to reduce its forecasted growth from 2.3% last year to just 1% per year –below the anticipated national average of 1.7%.
The growth in infrastructure is expected to reach 4% per year as a result of key projects, particularly the flood protection schemes in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, an upgrade of £1.5bn to the Cambridgeshire A14, the enlargement of the Port of Felixstowe and Peterborough’s new £450m renewable energy park.
Speaking from the head office in Bircham Newton, West Norfolk, the CITB partnerships manager for the East of England, Andy Barron said: “It’s great to see that there will be growth in construction jobs over the next five years.
“This is not just in traditional trades but in a range of office jobs which people might not always associate with construction but are absolutely vital.
“It’s good news that infrastructure is leading the way, because we know that other economic benefits often happen off the back of this investment.
“While we are seeing something of a slowdown in overall activity, the construction sector in the region remains solid.”
A severe skills shortage has been a critical setback for the industry over recent years and there have been several local and national schemes aimed at resolving this issue. Currently, according to the CITB analysis, electricians are the most scarce, with vacancies for around 2,500, shortly followed by painters and decorators where there is a shortfall of 1,600, with similar numbers applying to carpenters. In addition to these, a further 1,100 civil engineers are also needed, along with 950 senior managers and 550 architects.
This forecast accompanies the publication of the government’s white paper on what it describes as Britain’s “broken” housing market. The paper aims to revamp the industry by assisting smaller companies to set up while also reducing development schedules.