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Scottish construction sector taking steps to avoid skills 'time bomb'

New research into the future of the Scottish construction sector has found that it is facing a skills “time bomb” if more is not done to encourage more young people to train for construction industry jobs.

The research was carried out by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and found that a fifth of all skilled construction staff in Scotland could be lost within the next ten years, due to the looming retirement of many people in the baby boom generation.

Around 19 per cent of the workforce is due to retire in the next five to ten years – equating to around 35,000 workers. The research is based on figures published by the Office for National Statistics. The CITB’s director in Scotland, Graeme Ogilvy, said that the Scottish construction sector faced a similar crisis in the early 1990s and it left a lasting effect on the state of the industry.

“Almost one in five workers is set to retire from the Scottish construction industry over the next 5-10 years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry – and investing in the training to up-skill our existing workforce – is no longer an option,” Ogilvy explained.

“The construction sector is essential for local and national economic growth and to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now.”

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has said that building companies need to start thinking about their skills provisions and workforces of the future now, particularly as the construction sector is just starting to pick up again. SDS’s Chris Brodie said that companies need to have clear plans for future growth and need to include training schemes and apprenticeships in those plans.

“We would agree with the CITB’s view on the importance of employers thinking about recruiting young people to meet their current and future skills requirements,” he said. “The construction sector has faced challenging economic conditions over the last few years, and now that the sector is picking up, it is the right time for companies to start planning for future growth."

The two organisations are already starting to work with industry partners to establish a construction sector Skills Investment Plan, which will provide funding and structures to ensure that there is a continuous pipeline of talent coming on to the market.