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UK construction firms fear major skills shortage

Two fifths (41%) of construction companies in the UK believe the industry will face a serious skills shortage as the economy continues to recover over the next five years, a survey has revealed.

The figures come from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a poll that canvasses the opinion of small and medium size enterprise owners from a variety of sectors across the UK on a range of economic and financial issues.

The concerns follow the latest forecast from the CITB Construction Skills Network which predicts that 182,000 new jobs will be created in the UK construction industry between 2014 and 2019 as employment rises for the first time since the start of the recession in 2008.

National sales director for the construction division at Close Brothers Asset Finance, Andy Sagar, said: “As an industry that has been badly affected by the economic crisis, it is under­stan­dable that the construction sector might feel ill equipped for growth.

“While the recovery is gathering pace and output continues to grow, we now risk serious skills shortages where companies have failed to attract new staff and train their workforce in the downturn.”

The survey further revealed that more than half (53%) of businesses are currently running apprentice schemes and a third are planning to introduce them in the future.

However, 65% of construction firms admit that access to cash is a major challenge for their business, so the cost of creating an appren­ti­ceship could be a concern. Seventy nine percent of those polled said that they would welcome a government grant to set up a scheme.

Mr Sagar added: “Appren­ti­ceships can be an effective way to broaden your talent pool and grow your businesses at a minimal financial cost, so companies should consider them as an investment towards their future. 

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