A lack of young talent coming into Newcastle’s construction industry is threatening a significant number of businesses in the area, according to research.
A study, conducted by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) shows that 44% of construction contractors based around the city are struggling to recruit young workers with the right skills.
The wider North East picture looks even more alarming, with as many as 2,417 construction jobs potentially under threat if insufficient talent causes firms to go under.
In addition, 12% of employers said that a lack of skills was stopping their business from growing, with a further 36% stating that they had to source the relevant skills from elsewhere at a substantial cost to their business.
In response to these findings, CITB has teamed up with iconic construction machinery firm JCB to launch the Construction4Growth Skills Drive across England and Wales, encouraging a new generation of talented youngsters to explore career options in the sector.
This week, the Skills Drive digger, along with members of CITB, arrived at Walbottle Campus to talk to youngsters about the career options available to them in the UK’s construction industry.
The urgent need for new talent is further highlighted by ONS figures which show that 21% of construction workers in the North East – over 16,895 people – are due to retire in the next decade.
Steve Housden, CITB sector strategy manager for the North East, said: “Our report clearly shows that more needs to be done to address construction’s skills ‘time bomb’, to safeguard jobs and ensure that growth is possible for contractors in the Newcastle area.
“Now is the time to start sparking the imagination of young people and harnessing their talent for the future of the industry – any delay now could be putting the industry’s growth on hold.
“It is for this very reason that CITB has been hitting the roads and visiting schools like Walbottle Campus with its Construction4Growth Skills Drive, to support the industry in recruiting more young people.
“We need to show that construction is a high-tech, world-class industry with outstanding career prospects.”
CITB is the industrial training board for the construction industry in England, Scotland and Wales.
It aims to ensure that construction employers have the right skills in right place at the right time by investing funds and providing a wide range of industry-led skills and training solutions.
CITB is also a partner in ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the UK construction industry, raising employer engagement in training, providing labour market insights on future skills needs and developing standards and qualifications for the sector.
Further results from CITB’s research, which involved 300 construction employers, found 60% of those surveyed in Newcastle felt they should be incentivised more to take on youngsters as part of their workforce. A further 40% said more careers advice was needed to inform young people of the opportunities available to them.