A skills shortage is threatening the infrastructure and residential pipelines in London and the south east of the UK, according to a report.
The report by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and KPMG says that, with 20% more workers needed for £96bn (€123bn) of projects between now and 2017, the UK capital and surrounding regions are facing a “major skills crisis”.
House-building targets risk not being met, while the delivery of large infrastructure projects could be jeopardised, they said.
The shortage could impact the wider economy as early as April next year, when more than 600,000 workers will be needed to deliver major projects currently in planning, the ‘Skills to Build’ report said.
Richard Threlfall, KPMG UK head of infrastructure, building and construction, said that, for the “first time in many generations”, the UK had a strong pipeline of construction and infrastructure projects.
“Delivery of that pipeline is now in jeopardy – not for lack of political will or funding – but for lack of a sufficiently large and trained workforce,” Threlfall said.
“Unless action is taken now, our housing targets will be missed, and infrastructure projects delayed.”
A 51% increase in training provision is needed to meet demand for skilled labour between 2014 and 2017 and plug a gap of nearly 15,000 people.
“This report calls on the industry itself to wake up and take responsibility to increase levels of training dramatically,” Threlfall said.
Government and training providers, he added, needed to recognise that the UK construction industry was changing, with more application of technology and a trend towards offsite manufacturing.
“The skills required in the industry tomorrow will be very different from the skills required today,” Threlfall added.
The residential sector is also facing a shortage, the report said, with 255,000 workers needed on site to deliver the 2015 pipeline of housing and 400,000 of the workforce expected to retire over the next 5-10 years.