CIOB: Construction will suffer skills deja vu without investment

Results from the fifth annual skills audit from the Chartered Institute of Building shows that the construction industry is under staffed.

77% of construction professionals who took part believe a lack of skilled domestic construction personnel and the scarcity of good training and investment has led to a skills shortage. With 85% concerned there may not be enough skilled construction personnel available when the industry needs them.

“The signs suggest the industry is being cautious in how it retains staff and recruits new talent. That is unsurprising when the economy is so uncertain. But there is a risk that construction will fall into the same trap as the last recession and lose the people it needs to respond to economic recovery”, said Michael Brown Deputy Chief Executive at the CIOB.

This 2011 report centres on the prevalence of skills shortages, how government policy such as tuition fee rises and removal of the Default Retirement Age will affect the workforce, recruitment practices of graduates and apprentices, and whether organisations are rewarding or making redundant their employees.

50% of the sample believes that the construction workforce over the course of 2011/12 will decrease, as opposed to 17% believing the workforce will increase.

According to 51% construction graduates leave university without sufficient levels of technical knowledge. In addition, respondents believe that graduates also lack decision-making and problem solving skills. As a counter to these points, the majority of respondents believe utilisation of work placements and greater integration between industry and academia would assist in addressing the lack of these specific skills.

“There has long been a suggestion from students, industry, and an acknowledgement in academia, that the education system is not producing work-ready talent and often does not give those starting out on a career the right skills for the job” commented Michael Brown.

“It is our belief that management courses in construction should be inspiring, challenging and innovative. In the past we had greater industry involvement and we would like to see that come back into the mix.”

68% of the sample believes fewer students will enter construction courses at universities in England and Wales as a result of the tuition fee rises that come into effect in 2012. More personnel will enter the industry via apprenticeships or internships, according to 38%, while there will also be a rise in work-based or alternative learning provisions.

The removal of the UK default retirement age (DRA) will lead to an ageing workforce, according to 57% of respondents. However, this is not necessarily a negative effect, as an increase in mentoring, reinforcement of the value older workers have on firms, and the transference of skills to younger generations are highlighted as other effects that the DRA removal will have.

Michael Brown said, “The removal of the default retirement age is a good thing. But we have to recognise that older experienced workers are also more expensive. And that could have a financial impact on how the industry recruits the next generation.”
Encouragingly, respondents have reported a marked increase, compared to the 2010 CIOB skills survey, in the number of organisations recruiting apprentices (18% increase) and graduates (12% increase).

Key Facts

. 996 respondents.
. Majority are CIOB members.
. 77% believe a skills shortage exists in the construction industry, a 5% increase from the 2010 survey.
. 77% point towards the economic climate and a lack of skilled domestic construction personnel as the cause.
. 85% are concerned there may not be enough skilled construction personnel available when construction needs them.
. 55% said their organisation had implemented a pay freeze over the last twelve months.
. 57% believe the removal of the UK Default Retirement Age (DRA) will result in an ageing workforce.
. 55% suggest the removal of the DRA will give fewer employment opportunities for younger generations.
. 68% believe fewer students will enter construction courses at universities in England and Wales because of the increase in tuition fees.
. 53% believe the planned increase in UK paternity leave will cause a temporary loss of skilled personnel, though 46% believe the uptake of paternity leave in the industry will be minimal.
. 42% of respondents stated their organisation actively recruited apprentices in the last twelve months.
. 52% stated their organisation was actively recruiting graduates in the last twelve months.
. 42% of respondents felt the standard of teaching in construction related courses in universities and colleges does not meet the current and future demands.
. 42% indicated their organisation had made redundancies in the last 12 months.
. 87% felt a diverse workforce makes good business sense for the construction industry.

The information garnered from this and previous CIOB skills surveys maps trends over time. The data published in these reports from before, during and after the recession offers a unique insight into the condition of the industry’s workforce over the past five years.

A full version of the 2011 Skills Report and previous research is available here:-



The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) represents for the public benefit the most diverse set of professionals in the construction industry.

Our Mission

To contribute to the creation of a modern, progressive, and responsible construction industry; able to meet the economic, environmental and social challenges faced in the 21st century.

Our 7 Guiding Principles
. Creating extraordinary people through professional learning and continuous personal development.
. Promoting the built environment as central to the quality of life for everyone everywhere.
. Achieving a sustainable future, worldwide.
. Advocating exemplary ethical practice and behaviour, integrity and transparency.
. Pursuing excellence in management practice, and technological innovation rooted in evidence based science.
. Being socially responsible and working responsibly.
. Enabling our members to find an emotional resonance with the Institute; their success is our success.

We have over 47,000 members around the world and are considered to be the international voice of the building professional, representing an unequalled body of knowledge concerning the management of the total building process.

Chartered Member status is recognised internationally as the mark of a true, skilled professional in the construction industry and CIOB members have a common commitment to achieving and maintaining the highest possible standards within the built environment.

Further information is available by contacting Saul Townsend CIOB Press and Communications Manager on t: 01344 630 766 or e: