KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-news - since 2002
28th January 2021
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Welcome to the
400,000 new houses mean plenty of new kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, so on the face of it, the Chancellor’s spending review bodes well for our industry… But it’s not going to be easy, is it?
The Federation of Master Builders has already seen the snag and is warning that the construction skills shortage will scupper the Chancellor’s plans. Its chief executive, Brian Berry, believes we need a new generation of ‘real’ builders to make this vision a reality. “We’re already seeing housing developments starting to stall because the cost of hiring skilled tradespeople is threatening to make some sites simply unviable,” he argues. “Unless we see a massive uplift in apprenticeship training in our industry, there won’t be enough pairs of hands to deliver housing on this scale.”
Mark Beatson, chief economist for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is thinking along similar lines, saying:
“We need businesses to invest more broadly in skills development and we need more opportunities for people to learn or retrain at any point in their working life. The focus has to be on quality apprenticeships of level 3 and above to ensure that both people and employers get a quality outcome.”
While CIPD colleague, Labour Market Adviser Gerwyn Davies, agrees, he says migrants can prove invaluable in solving skills shortages issues. And with the latest Office for National Statistics figures showing that net migration for the year ending June 2015, at 336,000, is at an all-time high – and the reputation Polish builders have for getting the job done, he could be right…
“The growing proportion of migrants who have a definite job to go to illustrates the valuable role migrant workers are playing in minimising skills shortages,” he says, adding that policymakers must recognise the need to ensure British workers are equipped with the skills that will enable them to compete for jobs on a level playing field.
As someone who’s suffered what I feel is more than my fair share of tradespeople who can’t pass muster, I do hope that competition from migrant workers (of whom I have no personal experience) and the calls for better training, will lead to a building trade that inspires confidence once more, as well as the ready availability of skilled workers when we need them.
27th November 2015