It was encouraging to hear the chancellor commit in last year’s autumn statement to a £44bn five-year programme to deliver over 300,000 homes per year, but the same question that was posed then is still relevant after today’s spring statement… Who is going to build them?
The Charted Institute of Building (CIOB) has recently reported that an additional 157,000 construction workers will be required by 2021 to maintain current levels of demand and this spring statement does not do enough to adequately address this shortfall.
The £80m proposed in todays spring statement to support SMEs to recruit apprentices will be welcomed by the business community. However, further thought needs to be given to the delivery of apprenticeship programmes and how they are firstly made more attractive to candidates, and secondly sustainability in line with growing wage demands linked to skilled construction trades.
It was announced today that the £29m construction skills fund will open for bids next month to fund the 20 construction skills villages across the county, placing skills villages along side existing construction sites. On the face of it this seems like a good idea, it is difficult however to see the additional benefits that this will bring when contrasted to the existing CITB National Skills Academy model.
It is also underwhelming that the government are still ‘seeking views’ on extending the current tax relief system to support employers to up-skill and retrain their teams. If we are serious about meeting the skills shortage gap then elongated consultation periods need to be expedited to make way for action.