Training body predicts infrastructure squeeze that may push up costs and cause project delays

The UK will need to recruit more than 8,000 people to work on Crossrail by 2012, according to figures released this week by ConstructionSkills.

The training body predicts that the £8bn rail project will need an extra 3,000 workers by the end of this year and 8,000 by 2012.

Five hundred extra construction managers will be needed by 2012 to work on the project, taking the total to 1,590. An extra 1,260 workers will be required in the wood trades and interior fit-out sector, adding up to 2,320.

James Hastings, Experian’s head of construction futures, said there was the “possibility for capacity constraints” on Crossrail, owing to other infrastructure projects under way such as the East London line upgrade, the Victoria tube station expansion and £3.5bn of work on Thameslink.

He said: “The industry always says it’ll eventually get things built, but you end up with problems of rising costs, project delays and quality issues. Then you start thinking, how can you phase this so it doesn’t happen?”

He added: “We’re forecasting pretty robust increases in London infrastructure output in the next few years. It might be sensible for people to look at work on the drawing board and jig it around.”

Hastings said the shortages could be felt more acutely in infrastructure than other types of work because it used specialist skills, such as boring.

The figures come from the annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, which sets out the numbers of workers needed over the next five years.

Researchers worked out the number of new workers that would have to be recruited to meet general demand and looked at how many extra recruits would be needed to meet certain scenarios.

The CSN says in the UK 88,400 new workers will be needed each year to meet demand.

The survey found that Northern Ireland was a particular hotspot, owing to an £18bn investment package to be spent in Belfast between now and 2018.