Growth across the North East’s construction sector could create up to 17,500 new jobs over the next five years, a industry body has predicted.
A sizeable number of city centre developments, as well as rising demand for new homes, is set to trigger a huge jobs boom in the one sector that bore the brunt of the economic crisis, as projects were put on hold or cancelled.
According to a forecast from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), some 3,510 new jobs will be made each year over the period from now until 2019.
The report – the annual survey by the Construction Skills Network (CSN) – suggests the region could see growth of 2.3% over the period, with the employment boost helping to fuel a Northern economic powerhouse.
The CITB said the commercial and industrial sectors are important drivers in the region, and that infrastructure is predicted to be the highest performing sector, with an annual average expansion of 5.8% – one of the highest growth rates in the UK and much higher than the national average of 2.4%.
The prediction comes amid a growing list of projects, including the 780 construction jobs set to be created at the £30m industrial scheme Kingsway, in Gateshead, being spearheaded by UK Land Estates, the £100m makeover of Newgate Street in Newcastle, and the £100m Swan Hunter Shipyard redevelopment.
Recent weeks have also seen key North East employers unveil recruitment plans as part of a drive to meet demand for new, affordable housing.
Barratt Developments North East will swell the ranks by 600 this year alone as it strives to meet targets, while Alnwick-based Cussins is taking on some 500 new employees.
Newcastle based Surgo Construction and Thompsons of Prudhoe also envisage headcount expansion on the back of successful procurements.
Despite the positive forecast, however, the CITB warns that the skills shortage continues to loom large.
Threatened by a widening skills gap, the board is now urging tradespeople who left the industry during the downturn to return and take advantage of the increasing opportunities in the sector.
Steve Housden, CITB sector strategy manager for the North East, said, “This report is terrific news for the region and shows the construction industry is making a strong comeback.
“Worryingly, though, construction is facing a skills gap, with projects potentially held back due to a lack of skilled workers. That’s why CITB is working with industry to attract the next generation of workers and encourage skilled tradespeople who left the industry in the recession to return.
“This positive forecast shows that now is the right time to start, or return, to a rewarding career in construction.”
Nationally more than 224,000 jobs will be created by 2019 as the sector expands. The annual forecast shows that the UK’s private housing sector is set to continue growing at a rate of 4.6% over the forecast period, with the commercial sector set to grow at the same rate up to 2019.