The Government must do more to close the green skills gap: A call to action for the UK construction industry

The UK may be unable to meet its net zero targets because of construction skills shortages, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research 

A letter has been put together by leading construction industry figures and it calls on the Chancellor to support the sector to get the green skills it requires to both play a leading role in the green recovery and help the country reach net zero.  

It warns that due to the UK’s failing skills system; the existing skill sets within the construction industry that are needed are being not being met. This encompasses recruitment, training and retention of workers.  

Some of the issues holding back progress include: 

  • A lack of collective action 
  • Inadequate investment 
  • An ageing workforce 
  • A lack of leadership 

This threatens to delay the UK’s ability to deliver a zero-carbon economy, and to make good on the government’s ambitions. 

They also make the argument that investment in a green recovery can create thousands of new construction jobs on projects that are essential for building major infrastructure projects. These then in turn stem the tide of carbon emissions to improving the energy efficiency of homes.  

However, to seize this opportunity, the government must bring forward legislation and regulatory powers to ensure the skills gaps can be filled, because the sector is essential to tackle the climate crisis and restore nature. 

The Progressive Policy Think Tank (IPPR) proposals recommended by the industry leaders in the letter include: 

  • Increasing funding for further education and expanding apprenticeships, as well creating a new National Infrastructure and Construction Skills Demand Pipeline at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. 
  • Ensuring investment in skills is accounted for in budgets for government-funded infrastructure projects. 
  • Legislating to improve pay and conditions for workers in the sector, to make construction careers more attractive to jobseekers. 

The letter also recognises that the construction sector must itself make substantial changes to achieve the shared ambition of transforming the economy and reaching net zero by 2050. 

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