In late 2016, an industry report was published which concluded that the construction sector must ‘modernise or die’. Has this been reacted to, are we seeing any changes?

The report suggested that the UK’s construction industry faces ‘inexorable decline’ unless longstanding problems are addressed.

As more people leave the industry each year than join it, the construction workforce is shrinking, placing increasing constraints on its capacity to build. However, there is little incentive for contractors to invest in long-term training when they are increasingly reliant on a fractured supply chain and self-employment. 

Figures from a 2016 YouGov poll confirm suspicions that school leavers and graduates do not view construction as an attractive career choice (the poll found that two-thirds of Britons wouldn’t consider a career in construction). Brexit could make this situation even worse if it results in reduced migrant labour. 

The solutions have been suggested to lie in the need to better align the requirements of construction firms and the businesses who hire them. 

Suggested recommendations for improvement are: 

  •  The ConstructionLeadership Council (CLC) should have strategic oversight of implementing the recommendations. 
  • The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) should be comprehensively reviewed and reformed. 
  •  A reformed CITB should reorganise its grant funding model for skills and training aligned to a future modernised industry. 
  •  Investment in R&D and innovation in construction by changing commissioning trends from traditional to pre-manufactured approaches. 
  •  A comprehensive innovation programme to define key measures of progress and report regularly against these. 
  •  A public-facing story and image for the holistic ‘built environment’ process, including an outreach programme. 
  •  Government support to help establish and maintain appropriate skills capacity. 
  •  Government should promote the use of pre-manufactured solutions in the housing sector. 
  •  Government should assemble and publish a comprehensive pipeline of demand in the new-build housing sector. 
  •  Government should consider a behavioural deterrent scheme similar to the ‘carrier bag charge', taxing businesses that buy construction work in a way that doesn’t support industry innovation or skills development.