Axing of the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has sent shockwaves through the construction industry
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of The Federation of Master Builders has responded to Theresa May’s recent decision to axe the Department of Energy and Climate Change, stating that such a move further represents the governments continuing lack of interest in improving energy efficiency within construction.
Berry said: “Three years ago Cameron told his officials to “cut the green crap” and May has taken this further still by dissolving DECC. This means that there will be no Cabinet-level Minister championing climate change issues at the highest level of Government, which is bound to result in less emphasis and less action. Andrea Leadsom’s appointment as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provides little solace when you consider that she has regularly voted against measures to tackle climate change in the past. This matters because for May’s newly-formed Government to side-line its green policies, would be to sacrifice their numerous economic benefits.”
Berry continued: “May should make improving our existing buildings an infrastructure investment priority as the knock-on benefits for jobs and growth are enormous. A programme to make British buildings more energy efficient would generate £8.7 billion of net benefits. This is comparable to the benefits delivered by the first phase of HS2, Crossrail, smart meter roll out, or investment in new roads. And unlike these large infrastructure projects, work to improve our existing buildings is not at the mercy of the lengthy and protracted planning process – work could start tomorrow.”
In response to the new appointment of Justine Greening and the increased need for education to support the development of young people who wish to develop skills within construction, Berry concluded: “We welcome the appointment of Justine Greening as Secretary of State for Education with responsibility for skills and apprentices, which previously came under the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills […] Greening has a solid background in transport and treasury briefs which will no doubt help her understand the importance of having a properly skilled construction workforce. As we face the prospect of Brexit, combating the construction skills crisis has never been more important.”
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217,000 extra workers needed to meet COVID-19 recovery
As the construction industry’s recovery progresses, the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network (CSN) forecasts have led the organisation to believe the industry will reach 2019 levels of output in 2022.
The CSN says there will be an increase in the number of construction workers in “most English regions” by 2025, with demands forecasted at a 1.7% rise for the East Midlands, and a 1.4% rise for the West Midlands.
Scotland and Wales are also predicted to see a surge in demand for construction workers with a total increase of 1.4% and 0.7% respectively. The North East is the only region to see a slight decline in workforce demand at -0.1%.
Wood and interior fit-out trades among the most desirable during COVID-19
According to CSN’s forecast, the trades that are the most wanted are those of wood and interior fit-outs, with both requiring around 5,500 workers per year. Other in-demand trades include technical staff and other construction professionals, requiring 5,150 workers each year, construction managers at 3,600, and the electrical installation trade, which requires 3,400 staff per year.
There is also expected to be demand for 7,850 non-construction, office-based professionals and technical and IT support staff each year. Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said: “It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities.
“We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with the government and FE to build better bridges between FE 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. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills, and skills related to energy efficiency”, he said.