The annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, which issues a five-year forecast into the skills requirements for the industry, anticipates a 1.3% growth in construction across the UK, which is one-third of a percent lower than last year. The forecast is based on the premise that the UK has an exit deal with the EU.
Public housing is the largest anticipated increase- it appears to be moving steadily ahead as infrastructure declines. Financial support from the local and national government is supporting a growth rate of 3.2% in public housing, which is up by half a percent since the forecast last year.
Infrastructure is expected to increase by 1.9%, which is down from last year’s forecast of 3.1%. This sector has been heavily impacted by Brexit uncertainty and last month’s stalling of Wylfa, the Welsh nuclear power plant.
Commercial construction is going down significantly due to investors being overly cautious in the face of Brexit. The forecast anticipates that the sector will decline sharply in 2019 and level out by 2023, with no growth expected overall.
Despite this outlook, the housing repair and maintenance industry appears to be profiting from a more subdued property market, as homeowners cancel plans to sell and improve their current properties. This sector is expected to grow by 1.7% by 2023.
Although the wider economic outlook remains uncertain, more construction workers will be needed over the coming five years. An estimated 168,500 construction jobs will be created in Britain during that time, 10,000 more than the 2018 forecast. Employment in construction is expected to reach 2.79 million in 2023, which is only 2% lower than its 2008 peak.
CITB Policy Director Steve Radley said that the forecast reflected the uncertainty across the wider economy, primarily due to Brexit. Concerns about Brexit are weighing on investors and clients at present, which is affecting contractors and their ability to plan for the future.
Mr. Radley said that if a deal is agreed regarding the UK departure from the EU, low but positive growth is expected for the construction industry. Even as infrastructure slows down, public houses and repair and maintenance are showing signs of strengthening. This should result in the number of construction jobs increasing over the next five years, creating more opportunities for construction careers and heightening the importance of tackling the current skills pressures.