Posted on: 1 Sep 2017
One million construction and building services jobs will be required to fill the need for the British market by 2020.
This looming skills shortage has not gone unnoticed by chief executive of one of the country’s leading construction companies Balfour Beatty.
Leo Quinn was appointed to the Balfour Beatty Board as chief executive in January 2015 and has been vocal in his opinions about the industry’s challenges with finding personnel post-Brexit.
Construction relies on a flexible workforce to accommodate for seasonal work patterns and fixed term contracts, which Brexit could affect – but Quinn’s one million-person skills shortage was forecast based on not losing any of the existing workforce as a result of leaving the EU.
“By 2020, the industry needs another million workers – assuming we lose none of our current European employees, post-Brexit. To close that gap – to attract that number of people into the industry and train them properly – requires every part of the system to be pulling its weight,” he was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
Quinn’s comments come as the chief executive is poised to protest the annual levy the company pays to fund the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), and more than half the industry is behind him.
The construction sector meets triennially to vote on continuing their support of the fee, which amounts to £200 million annually to back training in construction and a setting of industry standards in the UK.
Quinn stated that the CITB is not accountable enough to the industry it serves.
However, CITB policy director Steve Radley responded to Quinn by saying the organisation is indeed working to tackle the skills shortage.
He said: “There is more detail to be fleshed out on how we will change but there is a huge amount of information out about what we plan to do.”
The CITB was set up in the 1960s to ensure best practice and provide training. Quinn has raised concerns about how the Board operates, questioning the 0.35 per cent of the wage bill construction companies pay the organisation.
Radley said the CITB is changing the services it provides to reflect the interests of members and become the industry body the construction industry wants it to be.
Quinn is founder of The 5% Club, which actively seeks new talent in a bid to tackle the post-Brexit skills shortage.
“A quarter of all construction workers in London are from the EU,” Quinn stated. “Post-Brexit, this has significant implications for the construction industry.
“We must do more to attract more people into the sector – and what an amazing sector to be part of. We must show that construction is an immensely fulfilling field, where you have the satisfaction of seeing your work realised and endured for many years.”
The club – whose members include KPMG, the Ministry of Defence, Parkwood Leisure and Barrhead Travel – requires members to have apprentices, sponsored students or graduate trainees account for at least five per cent of their workforce.
Members are to achieve this within five years of joining the scheme.