CITB have released their latest insight report 2024-2028, covering a forecast for the industry, the incoming workload and labour levels. The forecast predicts uptakes in workload from 2025, with an increasing pressure building to attract new talent to the industry. According to CITB The UK construction industry needs to attract the equivalent of 50,300 extra workers per year to meet expected levels of work over the next five years, an increase from last year’s figure of 45,000. 

This growth isn’t expected to take off until 2025, with a modest growth forecast for 2024, with opportunities in new housebuilding, infrastructure, and repair and maintenance work causing a large increase until 2028. Although the figures have varied due to external factors throughout the lifetime of the CITB’s insight report, there have always been demand for new workers, peaking at 88,000 new workers being needed just before 2008. 

Some important factors, that in 2023:

The UK construction workforce was 2.67m

An estimated 210,000 workers left the industry

Around 200,000 joined

An average of 38,000 vacancies were advertised per month

And for almost a third (31%) of construction employers, finding suitably skilled staff was their key challenge

The construction industry needs to make clear steps in order to increase the intake of workers in the industry, so as to avoid the risk of being overwhelmed by workload moving into the future. Key methods to consider are:

Improving recruitment methods, making construction an exciting and viable career path to future generations, and embracing the diversity of the workforce. 

Making sure that those leaving the industry are being replaced by suitable candidates as well as meeting future growth demands. 

Train workers to have the skills needed for their jobs, and to take advantage of future opportunities such as productivity improvements and meeting net zero retrofit targets.

A mixture of all of these methods will be needed in order to compete with rising workload, and in today’s competitive labour market attracting and keeping workers is harder than ever, a trend seen across all industries, and not just a problem faced by construction. There is also a mismatch between the workers that construction employers are looking for, and workers that are available, whether by occupation, location, or both. This presents opportunities for training and retraining, although, uncertainty over growth means that employers may be holding back from making training investments. 

CITB are also keen to play their part in helping the industry tackle these increases in workload, and their contribution is equally important to attracting the right workforce. One of the methods CITB wish to achieve this is to shift from paying for training activity (grant schemes), to developing a skills system capable of meeting the challenges set out in this report.

CITB investments

As employers are struggling to find workers, CITB will support the construction industry by investing over £267m in three priority areas: 

Inform and enable diverse and skilled people into construction: by raising the profile of construction careers through activities such as Go Construct, Skillbuild, and STEM Ambassadors. Supporting people into the industry through work experience and Tasters, Apprenticeships, the New Entrant Support Team, and Onsite Experience hubs, and providing funding to support the cost of training new entrants. 

Develop a training and skills system to meet current and future needs: updating standards, to ensure training delivers the skills industry needs, working with industry to develop a competence-based skills system that will provide more flexible routes in, and working with governments to influence apprenticeships on industry’s behalf.

 Support the industry to train and develop its workforce: this is imperative to meet the skills needs of industry. Employers have told us they are looking to upskill their workforce to fill gaps, and core occupational training needs to be delivered efficiently. To make this work, CITB will develop and test a new Training Needs Analysis service, to help small businesses make informed decisions about the training they need. CITB will also provide financial incentives to help businesses to do more training and work with providers to identify gaps in supply so that good quality training is available when and where it’s needed.

Although the coming years will still pose challenges, the construction industry has continued to show resilience over the past 12 months and the long-term picture is becoming more positive. CITB will strive to support UK construction to attract and train a diverse range of recruits, equipping them with modern skills for rewarding construction careers.

Workforce

Construction employment is estimated to have fallen by 0.9% in 2023, following marginal growth in the previous year. A further decline is predicted for 2024 at 1.5%, before employment growth returns in 2025. 

Over the five years to 2028 employment growth is projected to average 0.6% a year, with expansion continuing to shift away from the professional services, where it has been for the past decade, and towards the trade occupations. 

ONS’s labour market data (February 2024) showed the unemployment rate at 3.9% in the three months to January 2024, the same as in the previous three-month period. The employment rate was slightly down, at 75% between November 2023 and January 2024, which is 1.2 percentage points below its immediate pre-pandemic level in December to February 2020. Consequently, the inactivity rate has ticked up, by 0.1 percentage points. UK Job vacancies peaked at over 1.3 million in the three months to May 2022, then fell consistently to 908,000 in the December 2023 to February 2024 period, though remaining well above the long-term average of 695,000. 

While average regular weekly earnings growth had subsided from a peak of 8% in July 2023 to 5.9% in January 2024, it remains historically high. Overall, the UK labour market has remained remarkably buoyant given the lack of economic growth the country is experiencing. Job vacancies in the construction industry were stable at 36,000 in the three months to February 2024, the same as in the previous three-month period. They have moved little from May to July 2023 when they stood at 40,000. It should be noted that the ONS figures are based on SIC(2007) 41–43 only.

Key Facts 

251,500 Extra workers will be required to meet UK construction output by 2028 (50,300 per year, an increase on the 45,000 in the 2023–2027 Outlook)

All devolved nations and English regions will see output growth over the forecast. Modest growth is expected in 2024 that gains pace from 2025

Major sectors for demand are: Private Housing, Infrastructure, Repair & Maintenance

If projected growth is met, by 2028 construction employment will increase to 2.75m