Apprenticeships can bridge skills gap says Autodesk director
The UK construction industry needs 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet rising demand, according to the Construction Skills Network published by CITB.
Even before Covid-19, it was estimated it needs to attract 400,000 new recruits each year to meet the UK’s infrastructure needs.
But given one in three current construction employees are over 50 there is predicted to be a 20-25% decline in the available workforce over the next decade. And with end of the free movement of people from the EU, it has further limited access to skilled talent.
Mike Pettinella, Director, Autodesk Construction Solutions EMEA, believes the solution may be one that is hardly new, but might have taken a back seat during the pandemic.
"Apprenticeships could help us bridge the construction skills gap and meet this rapidly rising demand, and attract a new crop of younger talent to the industry," he said.
"Apprenticeships benefit everyone. For candidates, it’s an opportunity to learn valuable skills without incurring thousands of pounds of student debts. For employers, it’s a chance to train up employees in the competencies that are really needed – combining technical knowledge with collaboration and team work, which are equally important as you enter a new industry. And if you’re a larger company and already required to pay the apprenticeship levy, it makes sense to ensure you’re benefitting from the scheme too."
Marshall Construction recently took on nine new apprenticeships covering various roles. "Some of our previous apprentices have left and started their own businesses, which sets them up for life," said Chairman Robert Marshall. "Most of our current managers came from organic growth within the business whom we have trained to our own standards." Firms such as Barnwood Construction and Keepmoat Homes are also advertising and supporting apprenticeships.
According to the CSN, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers by 2025, with East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) forecast to lead demand. Scotland (1.4%) and Wales (0.7%) are also predicted to fare well. The only region forecast to see a slight decline in workforce is the North East (-0.1%).
Major projects such as HS2 are driving growth in some regions and infrastructure (5.2%) and private housing (6.7%) should see the healthiest pace of expansion by 2025.
The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the future shape of work will be profound. Modelling by the McKinsey Global Institute on the effects of technology adoption on the UK workforce shows that up to 10 million people, or around 30 percent of all UK workers, may need to transition between occupations or skill levels by 2030.
HS2’s Old Oak Common station in London given go-ahead
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today given the go-ahead to construct the HS2 train station in Old Oak Common in London. It is said that the station will be the UK’s largest built in one stage, and will create more than 2,300 jobs.
Mr. Shapps said: “The start of permanent works at the largest train station ever built in the UK in one go, Old Oak Common, marks yet more progress in delivering HS2, the high-speed, high-capacity and low-carbon railway that will form the backbone of our national transport network. This ‘super hub’ station shows our Plan for Jobs in action – kickstarting major regeneration, creating 2,300 jobs and 250 apprenticeships in construction – and underlines this Government’s determination to build back better”.
Construction of the 32-acre site will include a 1.1-mile-long underground wall making way for six HS2 platforms. HS2 Ltd said the station aims to offer “unrivaled connectivity” with services to four crossrail platforms, four mainland platforms in South Wales, as well as platforms in the Midlands and North of England.
A notable feature of the station is its roof, which is the size of three football pitches. Mark Thurston, Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “The start of permanent works at Old Oak Common station, our first station under construction, is a significant step for phase one of HS2, as we deliver world-leading engineering to create what will arguably be one of the best-connected railway super hubs in the UK”.
The HS2 project so far
Announced in January 2009 as a government plan to construct a new high-speed railway network connecting London, the West Midlands, Leeds, and Manchester, HS2 or “High Speed 2” initially sparked criticism for its potential impact on the country’s green spaces and countryside.
With costs of over £42bn for the tracks and a further £8bn for rolling stock, the HS2 is the single most expensive project ever attempted by the British government. While the plan may have been announced over a decade ago, construction started in 2017 and is still ongoing. It is due to be completed in 2025, although the COVID-19 pandemic has almost definitely put a spanner in the works.
If the process goes according to plan, HS2 Ltd says that Phase 1, the London to Birmingham line, will open to the public in 2026, following commissioning and testing. Phase 2, which includes a route from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, is due to start construction the same year, with an estimated completion and operation date of 2033.