The skills shortage in the construction industry will not improve for at least five years, according to a Construction Industry Training Board report.
The CITB's Skills Foresight report, published this week, confirms the industry's view that skills shortages are most severe in London and south-east England, and that craft skills such as carpentry and bricklaying are most in demand.

The report says the shortages will attract unskilled workers, and skilled workers from other regions, but that the labour market will continue to be tight. It says the consequences will be "a low level of unemployment, difficulties in recruitment and earnings growth above the rate of inflation".

The report adds that the reasons for the skills shortfall are competition for workers from other industries and insufficient training in the 1990s.

The CITB predicts that significant changes will occur in the industry in the next five to 10 years. The report says the main differences will be off-site manufacturing and the move towards standardised, factory-made components. Other changes predicted are innovations in supply-chain management, quality assurance and partnering with clients.

[The skills shortage] will mean a low level of unemployment, difficulties in recruitment and earnings growth above the rate of inflation

CITB Skills Foresight group

The report concludes that there is a decline in the number of students taking courses in all construction and built environment-related disciplines, except for architecture. It claims that the sector needs to better understand the reason for this decline, to change its image with young people and to attract more graduates from non-construction backgrounds.

Three priority areas are identified for workforce development: maintaining the new intake of skills, raising skill levels in the existing workforce, and enabling modernisation and growth in the industry.

The report recommends that training programmes should be more flexible and accessible to more people, and that employers should have greater involvement in them. It also suggests that there is a need for an assessment and certification of existing skills and better human resources management in the industry.