The latest Construction Skills Network report from the CITB predicts growth of 1.7% over the next five years, with 179,000 jobs to be created.
But the positive figures are heavily dependent on three huge projects – Hinkley Point C and Wylfa Newydd nuclear power stations and High Speed 2 – starting main works on time.
Infrastructure is responsible for 45% of all growth from 2017-2021 with private house building the next best performing sector with average annual increases of 2.2%.
Skills shortages are set to intensify with a rise in vacancies for carpenters (+3,850 per year), electricians and insulators (+2,250), process managers (+2,150) and a range of IT and other technical workers (+5,240).
Steve Radley, Director of Policy at the CITB said: “We expect construction to keep defying the economic headwinds, with almost half of its growth coming from Hinkley, HS2 and Wylfa and other infrastructure projects.
“These huge projects give our industry a great chance to seize the initiative on skills and start investing in the next generation and upskilling the current one.
“So it’s vital that we don’t throw this opportunity away by allowing these projects to slip or get squeezed together and worsen the pressure on key skills.”
Sarah Beale, Chief Executive at CITB, said: “While we are forecasting slower growth for our industry than we were last year, employers will still be creating tens of thousands of new jobs.
“We will be working with employers to attract new talent into our industry and to train them for rewarding careers in the sector.
“While we have factored Brexit into this forecast, there remain many unknowns to life after leaving the EU.
“We will be working with our industry to understand what it means for our migrant workforce and what we must do to attract and grow more of our own.”