Chancellor Phillip Hammond has pledged £34bn towards training in areas such as bricklaying and plastering to help build the promised 300,000 new homes per year.
Millennials not wanting to go down the academic route could stand to benefit from some of last week’s Budget announcement. Out of the £34bn extra training budget, £20m is expected to go towards helping colleges to get ready for the introduction of T-levels, a new technical qualification that includes construction training.
The government set a target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, which can only be achieved if there are more skilled workers available.
According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 62% of its members thought that a skills shortage was the biggest obstacle in building more homes. And the UK Commission for Employment and Skills believes a further 700,000 workers are needed to replace the retiring population.
As well as a boost for young people wanting to pursue careers in construction, Hammond pledged £76m towards retraining adults to work in the digital and construction sectors.
The government is also continuing to support apprenticeships: “We are delivering three million apprenticeship starts by 2020 thanks to our apprenticeship levy, and I will keep under review the flexibility levy payers have to spend this money,” Hammond said.
The Brexit solution
After Brexit, many experts worry there could be a shortage of skilled workers from the EU, so Hammond’s proposals to focus on getting more people working in construction will be welcome.
Brian Berry, chief executive of FMB, said: “In the long run, the only real solution to chronic skills shortages will be a major increase in the training of new entrants into our industry. We are therefore pleased to hear the chancellor has committed extra resourcing to training for construction skills. With Brexit round the corner, the next few years will bring unprecedented challenges to the construction sector.”
However, others feel the issue doesn’t lie solely in a lack of capacity for housebuilding. James Knight, head of residential at Arcadis, thinks the chancellor needs to look more closely at planning permission.
“The gap in numbers between planning permissions and housing starts is often down to additional red-tape and bureaucracy created in Section 106 agreements and pre-commencement conditions,” he said. “The government needs to focus on reducing this burden.”