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BRE Academy survey findings reveal industry views on the most acute construction skills gaps

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The UK construction industry needs to do more to tackle a lack of key skills from BIM to subcontractors, and a lack of gender diversity from ‘boardroom to building site’ according to a report launched today at Ecobuild by the BRE Academy.

Based on a survey of 300 industry professionals the report finds that sustainability and environmental skills as well as trades such as plastering, electrical and plumbing were in short supply across construction. However of greater concern was that BIM and management skills, key to future development, were seen as lacking on a wider industry as well as an individual company or organisation basis.

The survey whose respondents ranged from leaders to subcontractors helps the industry understand which skills are in short supply and which are needed now and in the future. It also highlighted a continued image problem for construction, with 91% of respondents saying that people outside the industry have a different perspective of the industry than those within it.

The survey found there is a lack of gender diversity at all levels, with 61% of respondents saying the industry needed to do more to promote diversity. A clear need was identified to establish clear and appealing career pathways for young entrants to the industry, with 74% of respondents saying that these should be ‘actively promoted’ and 67% saying that there should be more focus on promoting construction’s hi-tech and digital aspects.

In addition the industry should be promoted more to academically minded students as well as those aiming for vocational qualifications according to the survey, and  greater use should be made of high-profile projects in promotional efforts. The survey concluded that Government should work more closely with colleges and schools to promote apprenticeships and show a stronger commitment to financially supporting SMEs in offering training. Lastly industry professional bodies should take the lead in promoting technical training.

BRE Academy Director Pauline Traetto said: ‘Construction currently contributes £92 billion a year to the UK economy with a workforce of 3 million people. In order to support future growth in the UK as well as rapid expansion in developing countries a talented, engaged workforce is critical. Only by grappling with the skills shortage highlighted in this report in areas like sustainability and digital design will the industry be able to deliver a low carbon, high performance future.’

With future challenges including scarce land and resources balanced against an increasing population and climate change issues, as well as the move towards digital construction and BIM, staff right across the sector need to upskill to keep pace with the changes. The BRE Academy is committed to closely scrutinising the market’s needs to identify how it can offer support in the future.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan commented ‘Surveys like this one help us in designing effective policies. We remain committed to creating 3 million more apprenticeships in this Parliament many of which will be in the construction sector and we are particularly keen to increase the sector’s diversity and help encourage more women to participate.’

The BRE Academy skills survey was supported by CITB IEMA and CIAT.‘This important research contributes to the evidence we need to work together, with industry, to close the skills gap.” Alex Birks, Head of Strategic Training Provision & Development, CITB.

For further information please contact Linda McKeown, BRE, email [email protected]


BRE Academy

As the specialist training and development division of BRE, famous for its science-based research, standards and tools, the BRE Academy is able to deliver leading edge services to improve the performance and competence levels of individuals in the workplace, address the knowledge and skills gap, develop the next generation of skilled operatives and professionals and deliver accessible and practical CPD, and lifelong learning programmes. Courses are developed and written by world-renowned specialists who have shaped industry standards, ensuring delegates gain access to meaningful, relevant and interesting training programmes. For more information please visit