Rebuilding the Construction Industry

Hamilton Galloway discusses the employment outlook for the UK construction industry

17 April 2013

In this exclusive feature with City & Guilds, Hamilton Galloway, a senior consultant from labour market data experts Economics Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI), discusses the employment outlook for the UK construction industry.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s been a tough ride for the sector in recent years. Five years ago, the UK construction industry employed over 1.35m people, making up over 5% of the nation’s total workforce. But this all changed as the UK entered recession and employment in the sector fell by 16%. 

The big hits came from a significant slowdown of major construction and civil engineering projects. Private investment became scarce, planned projects were cancelled and the pipeline of new government-funded projects dwindled significantly as part of the spending review. 

So, as we enter 2013, is the outlook any brighter? The answer is yes. 

As with much of the British economy, the sector is showing signs of recovery and employment is picking up. Forecasts suggest employment in the construction sector will grow steadily through to 2016, although nowhere near the employment levels of 2008. 

Great Britain Construction Sector Employment Forecasts 2012-2016 

Construction sector employment forecasts 2012-2016

Source: EMSI Covered Employment- 2013.1

This growth is primarily expected to come from the construction of buildings sector, the part of the construction industry that seemed to weather the recessional storm best between 2008 and 2010. To some extent, the job roles that were negatively affected during the downturn of 2008 are likely to fuel growth, namely construction managers, construction trades and labourers.  

The past few years have been challenging and may have changed the nature of the British construction sector for some time to come. But, with employment growth around the corner, construction companies now need to make sure that they have a good, reliable pipeline of relevant skills. Learning providers also have a responsibility to ensure the courses they offer meet the needs of the industry, and that they are preparing learners for real jobs and successful careers in a growing and economically important sector.” 

City & Guilds and EMSI are working together to help colleges and training providers make vital links between local labour market intelligence, skills gaps, and relevant courses and qualifications.


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