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Chartered Institute of Building survey show construction skills in recession

Results from the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) fourth annual skills survey show that the industry is suffering from a skills shortage despite the recession and subsequent downturn in construction demand. 72% of respondents believe there is a skills shortage in construction.

The lack of apprentice recruitment is emphasised by 67% as the biggest threat to the future skills agenda. Furthermore, 52% of the sample reported that the recession has resulted in a decline in apprentice recruitment. Insufficient education about construction at school-level was reported by 47% of respondents as the second-biggest threat to the future skills agenda, while an ageing workforce was underlined by 46% as the third-biggest threat.

Michael Brown CIOB Deputy Chief Executive said, "Future investment for the industry is clearly essential. But it will be pointless if we do not have a skilled industry capable of delivering projects, and that means the industry must find ways of retaining, developing and recruiting its future human capital.

"Respondents called for apprenticeship and graduate schemes to be aimed specifically at the industry. This could suggest a lack of awareness, or relevance, of the current range of initiatives already on offer. Our view is that if the industry is to successfully recruit tomorrow’s skilled workforce then it must increase its participation in schemes like the Graduate Talent Pool that cut across all industries. There is evidence that construction is keen to recruit that talent from outside the industry."

The worst of the recession appears to have passed, with 74% of the sample expecting construction demand in 2010/11 to either increase or remain the same. In comparison with 2009, when 67% of respondents expected a decrease in construction demand, this is encouraging news. However, 43% of respondents expect the construction workforce to continue to decrease, further adding to skills shortages and suggesting the industry has not recovered from the downturn.

66% of respondents feel trade skills are what the industry requires the most, with technology/innovation skills (51%), leadership/management skills (43%) and environmental/sustainability skills (31%) also highly in demand. Almost half of respondents believe construction should be recruiting skills from other industries.

Graduate recruitment in the industry is on the decline, with only 2% of respondents reporting an increase in graduates, compared to 12% in the 2009 skills survey. 66% of the sample believe graduates do not have the necessary skills to work in the industry when they leave university, though 63% believe a graduate intern scheme, which would supplement those skills, would be beneficial to the industry.

93% of respondents feel that mentoring is a valuable method of developing new employees in the industry, and 76% of those would consider being a mentor. This is particularly significant considering 86% of the sample believe the industry needs to attract younger personnel.

Key facts and figures


560 construction industry professionals took part

66% of respondents described themselves as management

42% work for organisations that employ over 501 members of staff

35% of respondents are from London or South-East England


72% believe a skills shortage exists

67% indicate that the lack of apprentices in the industry is the biggest threat to the future skills agenda

66% feel trade skills are what the industry most requires

74% expect construction demand to either increase or remain the same in the coming year

43% are of the opinion that the construction workforce will continue to decline in 2010/11

60% specify that the recession has resulted in an overall reduction in graduate recruitment within their organisations, while 52% state the same regarding apprentice recruitment

66% think that graduates do not have the necessary skills to work in the industry when they leave university

93% feel mentoring is a valuable tool to develop new employees in the industry

63% of respondents consider a graduate internship scheme would be beneficial to the industry

49% believe that recruiting skills from outside the construction industry is necessary measure

61% of respondents observe that migrant worker levels have either decreased or remained the same over the past year

35% indicate that they have noticed domestic construction personnel moving abroad

A full copy of the report is available to download at http://www.ciob.org/resources/research.

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