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9,100 extra construction workers needed in Wales by 2027

Against a backdrop of economic challenge, rising materials and labour costs, new figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) reveal that 9,100 extra workers will be required to meet construction demand in Wales by 2027.

CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that:

  • 9,100 extra workers (1,820 a year) will be required to meet construction demand between now and 2027 in Wales

  • Construction output is set to grow for all nations and regions, however, recession is expected in 2023 with slow growth returning in 2024

  • Employment must grow by 1.6% annually to meet increasing demand

  • The major sectors for demand are:
    • private housing
    • repair & maintenance

The report expects construction to remain a sector where there is demand for workers despite the current economic uncertainty. As a result, recruitment, training, development and upskilling remain key priorities for the industry for 2023 and beyond.

CITB is responding by investing in apprenticeships, launching a range of targeted initiatives and working collaboratively with industry, to help construction have a skilled, competent, and inclusive workforce.

CITB Wales Engagement Director, Mark Bodger, said: “Construction is vital in developing and strengthening our regional and national economies, and while the industry will certainly face challenges heading into the new year, our report shows there is also a lot of opportunity within Wales.

“Despite the economic challenges, there is still huge demand for more workers in the industry, and it will become even more important to retain our current workforce over the next 18 months. There are a range of projects set to bring a steady stream of work into Wales this year, with one of the largest projects being the £590m Dowlais Top to Hirwaun section of the A465 Heads of the Valley Road, which will run through to the middle of 2025. The £1bn Shaping Swansea regeneration programme, the Welsh Government’s plans to decarbonise social housing and the development of a rail testing centre in Neath Port Talbot also present huge opportunity and will be major drivers for growth in Wales.

“Supporting the industry in attracting and retaining talent from right across Wales will be our main priority, with a particular focus on training routes. There’s no denying we have a major task ahead, but I feel inspired by the resilience shown over the last couple of years and look forward to supporting industry in emerging stronger when the recession ends.”

To help directly address these challenges and maximise the opportunities which will arise, CITB has invested almost £50m of Levy to support over 22,000 apprentices to help them join the industry; while grants have helped support over 16,000 learners to complete their qualifications.

Direct funding has provided grants over 269,000 training courses and in total £97m has been invested in grant funding by CITB, to make it as easy as possible for employers to recruit and retain their skilled workforce.

Further CITB initiatives include the recently launched employer network pilot project, creating localised solutions for funding and training and available to more than 3,800 levy-registered construction businesses across England, Scotland and Wales.

Through the support of established and experienced delivery partners, the pilot enables employers to recognise their training priorities and receive guidance on how best to find and fund the training most appropriate to them. In Wales, the pilot is being led by Cyfle Building Skills Ltd, with an initial focus on supporting construction employers from the south-west Wales area.

Across Wales, CITB’s network of Onsite Experience hubs are also creating more accessible routes into construction. By linking together employers, training providers and local authorities with prospective employees, the hubs provide a one-stop recruitment solution to help increase the talent pool.

Over the next three years, CITB’s investment of over £4m will provide thousands of people with invaluable onsite skills and experience, many of which will progress to sustained employment within construction.

Adam Jones, Brenig Construction, said: “One of the biggest challenges we have seen over the last few years is missing generations where we haven’t seen many people below the age of 40 coming into the industry. This has meant there is a lack of experienced people out there. The individuals we get through this scheme want to work in construction they are not using it as a stop gap. They are well vetted and committed to work.”