17,000 workers needed to keep up with building boom in East

Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps to lay bricks in a wall during a visit to a construction site in Cheshire.

The East of England will need 17,000 more construction workers by 2025 to keep up with a construction boom, a survey has found. Pictured: Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps to lay bricks in a wall during a visit to a construction site in Cheshire. - Credit: PA

The East of England will need to recruit 17,000 more construction workers by 2025 to help it fightback from the pandemic, a new study has revealed.

In a newly published report the Construction Industry Training Body (CITB) found that the amount of construction work in the East of England is set to grow by 4.2% annually until the end of 2025 and the new workers will be needed to keep up.

A 6.5% boom in the building of private housing will be one of the main drivers of this increase.

Part of this boom will be the £300 million, 2,000-home Brightwell Lakes development in Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich.

Some of the key trades needed to keep up with the construction boom in the East will include an extra 700 woodworkers and interior fitters and an additional 350 plasterers per year.

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Workers will also be needed for major infrastructure projects including Scottish Power’s £2.5 billion East Anglia Array windfarm, and Highways England’s largely completed £1.5 billion 21-mile upgrade of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

However, Sizewell C — the proposed huge new nuclear power station — is not factored into the report as its proposed timescale is likely to be after 2025.

According to EDF the construction and operation of the project would create “well-paid employment” for “thousands of local people”.

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Lorraine Gregory, CITB's senior customer engagement manager for the East of England, said: “There are a number of exciting construction projects driving our industry in the East of England in the next few years, and the region has performed better than others in retaining construction staff through the pandemic.

"Now we’ll be working closely with employers and learners to ensure our industry can recruit, train and grow sufficiently to meet these ambitious targets to help Britain build its way back to an economic recovery.”

C-J Green, chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Meeting the recruitment targets will be a challenge, but we are working with the sector through our Building Growth group, which liaises with builders, architects, local authorities and other organisations to ensure we have the pipeline of skills we will need to take full advantage of major infrastructure projects, particularly in the energy industry.”  

“We are actively promoting Kickstart, apprenticeships and traineeships, and our colleges and universities are looking at their curricula to make sure they are appropriate for current and future construction, and the clean growth that is central to our Economic Strategy for Norfolk & Suffolk.

"For example, embedding commercial requirements such as 5 point PPE into courses. We want to inspire the next generation of builders and drive an inclusive approach, encouraging more women into the sector.

“East Coast College’s recently opened Eastern Civil Engineering and Construction Campus at Lound supports our commitment to provide the skilled construction specialists that are needed to deliver critical infrastructure and our clean growth ambitions.

"Through our Youth Pledge, we are also encouraging businesses to link up with schools and colleges and offer young people work placements in construction and other key sectors."

Steve Radley, CITB policy director, said: "We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly.

"We are working closely with government and further education to build better bridges between centres of learning and work and make apprenticeships more flexible.

"We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.

“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as Net Zero emissions and Building Safety."

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