Urgent need for more skilled construction workers to meet demand across West, report shows

November 10, 2017

More than 80,000 construction workers will be needed across the West of England over the next 20 years to help make hundreds of building projects a reality, according to a new report. 

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA)I, which commissioned the research, said it would work with colleges, councils and businesses to help the fill the jobs and ensure that the region stays at the forefront of the skills revolution in the construction industry. 

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles launched the report on a visit to Bath College’s new construction centre.

He said: “We were the first region to commission an in-depth look at skills needs of this sector and it shows that construction is a vital contributor to our economy. With 668 projects in the pipeline, valued in excess of £12.6bn, it’s clear that there are huge opportunities here.

“We will use the evidence this new report gives us to inform joint working with local colleges, councils and businesses to ensure that as a region we continue to provide the right skills to sustain the industry.

“This new centre, funded through the West of England Joint Committee, is a great example how we are addressing the challenge. It will focus on full time courses and prepare young people, apprentices and higher education students for the construction sector from traditional trades to building services and electrical engineering.”

The purpose-built facility at the college’s Somer Valley Campus in Westfield, between Radstock and Midsomer Norton, officially opened in September and was built with £2.73m funding from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

New workshops, pictured above, are being used by 500 students and apprentices studying bricklaying, construction, carpentry and stonemasonry, as well as plumbing, electrical installation and refrigeration.

The main findings from the second Construction Skills Gap Analysis report, which covers the local authority areas Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and of Bath & North East Somerset, are:

  • More than 33,000 people are employed on construction projects valued at £1.14bn in the West of England, dominated by new housing (33%), commercial developments (30%) and infrastructure (27%) spend.
  • The greatest demand for workers is likely to be among wood trades, electrical, plumbers and bricklayers, with more immediate needs for floorers and logistics staff.

The research was put together by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which is developing a strategy and action plan to help take advantage of the opportunities in the industry.

Bath College principal Laurel Penrose added: “We’re proud of this new building, which is a fantastic facility and will allow students to get the very best out of their time studying with us.”

She said students with construction skills were in high demand, and the college was working closely with local employers to help them find their future workforce.

“We offer expert training for many of the key trades mentioned in this report, as well as specialist trades like stonemasonry and refrigeration and air conditioning, courses which are unique to Bath College in this region,” she said.

“I’m pleased to see this new report recognising the valuable contribution further education colleges make to economic development and employment.”

The full report is available here


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