Industry training experts fear 76,000 construction jobs will be lost during the downturn this year.
But leaders of ConstructionSkills are urging contractors to prepare for long-term growth with industry expansion between 2013-15 expected to create 200,000 new vacancies.
The latest Construction Skills Network report predicts that construction is expected to contract by 1% this year before stabilising in 2012.
The next three years between 2013 and 2015 will enjoy steady growth leaving output by the end of the five-year cycle at 6.2% above forecast levels for 2011.
This will mean a total of more than 200,000 new workers will be needed to complete planned projects, with an average annual recruitment requirement of 43,000.
The need for new workers has prompted ConstructionSkills to issue a Five-Point Skills plan for Government and industry, which focusses on productivity, low carbon, increased engagement, recruitment and education and training.
Judy Lowe, Deputy Chairman of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “The next couple of years will be really tough for the industry. But as the CSN forecasts show, there are signs of longer-term confidence returning to the market.
“Major infrastructure investment has been announced, particularly in rail and water, and work is starting on the Cheese Grater, the Walkie-Talkie and Darth Vader’s Helmet – exotic names, but proof investment is being made.
“As the SSC for the industry, we have a real role to play in supporting construction through these difficult times. Our objective is to help the industry maintain existing abilities, develop low carbon skills and meet the demand for new talent. Government support will help to ensure that we all have the right foundations in place, ahead of the recovery.
“Businesses need to retain their competitive edge, maybe looking at the Green Deal and the estimated 26 million homes in need of refurbishment. Above all, they need to take advantage of the wide-range of financial and practical support available from CITB-ConstructionSkills.”
The predictions highlight a growing north/south divide as the East of England, the South East and Greater London will experience higher than the national average annual growth (at rates of 2.4%, 2.2% and 1.8% respectively). Meanwhile, industries in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber will all shrink between 0.4% and 0.6%.
Private sector housing and the industrial and commercial sectors will be the main drivers for the industry over the five-year period, each contributing more than 4% average annual growth.
In contrast, following strong growth in public sector housing and public sector non housing in 2010, both of these areas will decline sharply between 2011 and 2015, posting average annual contractions of 5.6% and 12.4% respectively.
An area of growing importance in the latter part of the 2011 – 2015 cycle is likely to be the increasing number of ‘green’ contracts. These include new eco-friendly energy plants and retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient fabric and technology.
The full Construction Skills Network 2011-15 report can be downloaded at www.cskills.org/csn