Construction growth depends on major infrastructure projects staying on track, says CITB

Construction growth over the next five years is heavily dependent on the smooth progress of high-risk infrastructure projects, reveals a new report.

According to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the fortunes of a post-Brexit construction industry depend on the big three infrastructure projects - the £18 billion Hinkley Point C and £14 billion Wylfa Newydd nuclear power stations, and the £55 billion HS2 rail project - staying on track.

With infrastructure representing almost half (45 per cent) of all construction growth over the next five years, the Construction Skills Network (CSN) 2017-2021 forecast predicts growth of 1.7 per cent over the next five years, with 179,000 jobs to be created.

Private housebuilding is the only other sector performing strongly, with predicted growth of 2.2 per cent each year.

The CSN report shows there will be job opportunities aplenty, particularly for carpenters (+3,850 per year), electricians and insulators (+2,250), process managers (+2,150) and a range of IT and other technical workers (+5,240).

Steve Radley, director of policy at the CITB, said: “We expect construction to keep defying the economic headwinds, with almost half of its growth coming from Hinkley, HS2 and Wylfa and other infrastructure projects.

“These huge projects give our industry a great chance to seize the initiative on skills and start investing in the next generation and upskilling the current one. So it’s vital that we don’t throw this opportunity away by allowing these projects to slip or get squeezed together and worsen the pressure on key skills.”

There is a very varied picture across the UK, with Wales predicted to grow by 6.2 per cent, and Scotland to decline by -0.4 per cent each year. London remains a strong performer, growing by 2.4 per cent each year, with employment growing by 6.6 per cent. The South West (3.1 per cent), the North West (2.5 per cent) and the South East (2.2 per cent) are expected to perform well.

Sarah Beale, chief executive at CITB, said: “While we are forecasting slower growth for our industry than we were last year, employers will still be creating tens of thousands of new jobs. We will be working with employers to attract new talent into our industry and to train them for rewarding careers in the sector.

“While we have factored Brexit into this forecast, there remain many unknowns to life after leaving the EU. We will be working with our industry to understand what it means for our migrant workforce and what we must do to attract and grow more of our own.”

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