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UK construction industry 'facing skills shortage'

Construction skills in the UK housing industry are in such high demand that firms are starting to look to overseas workers to provide the services they need.

This is according to Stephen Stone, chief executive at Crest Nicholson, a FTSE 250-listed housebuilder. Mr Stone told Construction News that UK companies have looked to tradespeople from Europe to help them through current workloads due to the fact that not enough British workers have entered the sector recently.

He said: “This is a great opportunity for the UK jobs market but unless the industry and CITB responds, housebuilders will continue to grow but it will be on the back of bringing in European labour, which is a great shame for the UK jobs market.”

Improving training and skills within the construction sector took a backseat during the recession when building work plummeted to low levels. However, as work has started to pick up, the industry has found itself without the required skills and experience needed.

Mr Stone added that this trend has created a “lost generation” of apprentices and graduates in the housebuilding sector. He urged the industry to step up and help encourage more young people from the UK into the construction industry.

The comments coincided with research conducted on behalf of BAE Systems and the Royal Academy of Engineering, which found that people still have a negative view of vocational training, despite the clear career benefits it can bring.

The research found that only 46 per cent of British parents would encourage their children to partake in vocational training, with 14 per cent of parents of school-age children stating that they would still say that apprenticeships are a second best career route after a degree.