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UK needs over 250,000 extra construction workers by 2028

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)’s annual industry forecast - Construction Skills Network (CSN) 2024-28 - highlights the continuing persistent gap between what the UK needs to keep up with demand and the workforce available to meet the challenge.

While the the UK’s construction output rose by 2% in 2023, the third consecutive year of growth, and is forecast to grow by an average 2.4% a year between now and 2028, to meet this growth, an equivalent of more than 251,500 extra construction workers are needed over the next five years, with construction employment rising to 2.75m by 2028.

Despite the industry managing to recruit around 200,000 people every year, in 2023, an average of 38,000 vacancies were advertised per month. For almost a third (31%) of construction employers, finding suitably skilled staff remains their key challenge, particularly with more older workers retiring and not being replaced.

The report stresses that while the construction industry welcomed 200,000 new workers, it saw the loss of more (210,000 workers). With the ongoing difference between the predicted need for construction work and the available workforce, CITB’s calls for the industry to tackle the issues with “effective recruitment and training” to replace those leaving, and better prepare for the future, as well as to take advantage of key opportunities such as productivity improvements and meeting net zero retrofit targets.

Commenting on the report, Tim Balcon, CITB chief executive, said: “The UK construction industry will continue to grow, but needs more people in the workforce with the right skills. There has always been a demand for workers, and CITB’s CSN report drives home how many are leaving the sector compared to those joining, and the opportunities for employers to address this challenge by recruiting and developing a skilled, competent, and diverse workforce that is able to meet current and future needs.

“The ‘people pipeline’ is critical to sector growth, but other improvements are also important, including productivity and technological innovation. This is why our commitment to investing over £267m to ensure the skills system is fit for purpose – now and in the future – is so significant.

“The past few years have posed many challenges for the industry and as a sector we have shown significant resilience. 2024 and beyond hosts a more positive outlook and through a joined-up approach to recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, CITB will continue to play a crucial role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy.”