Steady expansion reliant on major programmes such as HS2 and Hinkley going ahead as planned

The CITB has forecast the construction industry will grow just 1.7% a year up to 2021, down on its 2.5% a year forecast just 12 months ago.

In its latest Construction Skills Network report, the CITB also revised down the number of construction jobs it expects to be created over the period to 180,000, down from 232,000 last January.

The new five-year forecast predicts the industry will grow steadily over the period, providing there aren’t delays to huge infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the Hinkley Point C and Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plants.

If the trio go ahead as planned infrastructure is expected to make up 45% of all construction growth over the period, according to the CITB.

Wales’ construction sector is expected to grow by 6.2% per year - over three times the national average - thanks to work starting on Wyfla and the M4 upgrade, but Scotland is expected to see contraction of 0.4% a year asmajor projects including the Queensferry crossing complete.

Across England the CITB expects the capital to remain strong with growth of 2.4% per year, while the South West (3.1%), the North West (2.5%) and the South East (2.2%) are expected to perform well. For the remainder of the English regions growth is predicted to range between 1.3% in the West Midlands to -0.1% in the North East.

Sarah Beale, chief executive at CITB, said: “While we are forecasting slower growth for our industry than we were last year, employers will still be creating tens of thousands of new jobs. We will be working with employers to attract new talent into our industry and to train them for rewarding careers in the sector.

“While we have factored Brexit into this forecast, there remain many unknowns to life after leaving the EU. We will be working with our industry to understand what it means for our migrant workforce and what we must do to attract and grow more of our own.”