Two thirds of small construction firms are being forced to turn down new business due to a lack of resources and skilled workers, according to a new survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The research, conducted on the FMB’s small and medium sized member companies, also found around half have been forced to outsource work to third parties rather than leave work unfinished.
Roofers were among the skilled tradespeople to be lacking across the UK, particularly in the South East.
The FMB’s research also found that for the 16-24 age group, difficulty in finding suitable apprenticeships was deemed to be one of the main factors preventing young people from joining the industry, suggesting more needs to be done to open doors for those wishing to enter the industry. This was followed by pressure from parents to stay in full-time education and a lack of understanding of the opportunities available in the sector.
It has been estimated that the construction industry needs around 35,000 new apprentices to cope with demand, however figures for 2013 show only 7,000 completed their training. The Government has pledged to create three million new apprentices by 2020, but there has been no mention of when these will be made or how many will be for the construction trades.
Perception of low wages was another significant factor in deterring interest in the trades, despite there being opportunities for high pay in a number of disciplines.
Among the FMB survey’s respondents was Tony Passmore, chief executive of Passmore Group, who said: “The lack of experienced multi-skilled workers is a huge concern for my business, as it could affect our future growth plans. We urgently need tradespeople that are trained in more than one area but we just aren’t seeing the candidates come through.”
Nic London from North London Construction.co.uk said: “There’s definitely a great opportunity for apprentices right now. I entered the industry as an apprentice myself, and I haven’t looked back. The starting salaries are much higher than many people expect and there is a great capacity for career development. In the past we’ve developed apprentices who have moved on to start their own businesses.”
Hayley Ellis, FMB director of training and membership services, said: “We’re aware that there is a desperate need for new apprentices to join the construction industry. Apprenticeship schemes offer a balance of technical skills and workplace experience, so school leavers can learn on the job and hone their skills – and build a really meaningful career.”
“We’d encourage those receiving their GCSE results tomorrow who feel unsure of what to do next to properly explore their options and consider the building industry – particularly through apprenticeship schemes. The construction industry offers fantastic earning potential and a whole host of exciting careers.”
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