Chamber aims to plug site skills gap

A new study published by Greater Manchester Chamber on Thursday is designed to improve the the city region's construction prospects for growth by assessing detailed skills and employment assessments to inform training providers.

The Greater Manchester Construction Sector Pipeline Analysis report was compiled by Barbour ABI and the Construction Industry Training Board.

Among the report's findings:

  • 'New boom' will be led by housing, £5.6bn new work, and private commercial, £4.585bn starts
  • £3.9bn of projects set to start in 2014
  • 632% increase in Greater Manchester infrastructure starts over next two years
  • Labour demand is set to reach 64,232 workers on site in March 2014
  • Key shortages in skills such as floorers, interior fit-out, steel erectors and building envelope specialists
  • Lack of on-site competency-based training with significant skills gaps across all trades
  • Only 29% of current construction training starts including apprenticeships have an on-site competency-based qualification such as NVQ
  • Oversupply of degree level construction qualifications; architects and surveyors

The project originated from Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce's Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot which was set up to ascertain training requirements within the sector and deliver practical solutions. Direct engagement with the industry at a workshop in the summer of 2013 showed that within the construction sector there was a large demand for more and better training with a more flexible approach to skills provision. The Chamber developed specialist cluster groups to look at key areas including Construction Management; Building Envelope Specialists; Civils & Steel and from here, asked them key questions about their skill requirements.

This report compares the skills forecasts to the current qualifications and apprenticeship starts in Greater Manchester, allowing the Chamber of Commerce to identify how training provision needs to change in the future to best position the construction industry, Greater Manchester training providers and the population to best deal with these skills gaps and take advantage of the coming growth in the sector through to 2017 and beyond. This data can then be used to support the requirements of the Richard review that all apprenticeships must have recognised and meaningful industry standards.

Gary Wintersgill, managing director of Kier Construction Northern, said: "One of the key challenges with managing any business is firstly understanding your pipeline of opportunities and then aligning your resources to bid for and deliver them. This report is a huge step forward in allowing contractors that operate in the Greater Manchester area the chance to do both. The report not only identifies specific projects coming through in the next four years, but also analyses the type of work and the skills needed to deliver them. It will be a valuable guide to all construction businesses in the Greater Manchester region over the next few years as we come out of recession and start to grow again."

Clive Memmott, chief executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: "The chamber research team analysed the pipeline of construction projects in Greater Manchester for the next four years and, working with the Construction Industry Training Board, has produced a forecast of the labour required to deliver those projects – not just a headline number – but by individual trades."

Memmott continued: "But we've gone even further, and have analysed the current skills being trained in GM and mapped this against what will be needed to deliver the £15bn of construction activity in the pipeline until 2017. This means that, for the first time, we are beginning to understand what skills, what trades and what apprenticeships need to be created and delivered in GM."

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Where do they get these massive numbers from,true things are picking up but the numbers beggar belief. Training in construction is VITAL and is very important but those headline numbers take some justifying

By Jack O'Nory

UPDATE: Adds link to full report on chamber website

By Ed

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