ConstructionSkills predicts a return to employment growth in 2013

Industry training experts fear 75,000 construction workers will be laid off during the slowdown this year.

But ConstructionSkills predicts a return to employment growth in 2013, when firms will require 200,000 new recruits over three years to meet industry demand.

The pick-up in recruitment will be partly fuelled by increased demand for labour intensive repair and maintenance work, the training body said.

However, even by 2015 employment is expected to remain 3.5% lower than its 2007 peak.

The latest Construction Skills Network report predicts construction output will contract by 1% this year before stabilising in 2012.

The next three years between 2013 and 2015 will enjoy steady growth leaving output 6.2% higher than forecast levels for 2011.

But the predictions highlight a growing north/south divide as the East of England, the South East and Greater London will experience higher than the national average annual growth (at rates of 2.4%, 2.2% and 1.8% respectively). Meanwhile, industries in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber will all shrink between 0.4% and 0.6%.

Judy Lowe, deputy chairman of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “The next couple of years will be really tough for the industry. But as the CSN forecasts show, there are signs of longer-term confidence returning to the market.

“Major infrastructure investment has been announced, particularly in rail and water, and work is starting on the Cheese Grater, the Walkie-Talkie and Darth Vader’s Helmet – exotic names, but proof investment is being made.

“As the SSC for the industry, we have a real role to play in supporting construction through these difficult times. Our objective is to help the industry maintain existing abilities, develop low carbon skills and meet the demand for new talent. Government support will help to ensure that we all have the right foundations in place, ahead of the recovery.

“Businesses need to retain their competitive edge, maybe looking at the Green Deal and the estimated 26 million homes in need of refurbishment. Above all, they need to take advantage of the wide-range of financial and practical support available from CITB-ConstructionSkills.”