The Construction Industry Training Board has issued a serious warning to the UK constructor sector, reminding them that it faces a skills "time bomb" if it fails to find new workers before potentially 400,000 people retire in the next five to ten years.

The new labour market research, published by the Office of National Statistics, breaks the information collected down into the following main points:

  • 19% of UK construction workers aged 55+ (equivalent of 406,000 people) are set to retire in the next five to ten years
  • 24% of workers aged 45-54 (518,000) will then subsequently be retiring in the next ten to twenty years
  • 37% of the UK construction workforce is self-employed, and 23% (182,800) of those are also set to retire in five to ten years

With these huge numbers in mind, the research also noted which areas would be affected more than others. The East Midlands and South West would particularly suffer, with 22% of workers (that's 31,900 and 39,500 for each place respectively) set to leave. On the other hand Greater London, which holds the largest number of construction workers in the UK at 318,000 people, is estimated to not take the hit quite so hard. There only 12% (38,500) are expected to leave. Meanwhile in Scotland and Wales, the number is set to be similar to the total number of people retiring in the North East and South West of England - which is round about 56,000 people.

When you consider all of this, its unsurprising that UK construction was found to have a higher age profile than many other UK industries (19% are set to retire in comparison to the rest's 17%). To combat this, the CITB is encouraging employers to look at recruiting more and more young people, many of whom will have only just received their GCSE or A-Level results and be considering their next steps.

CITB Interim Chief Executive William Burton said: "Almost one in five workers are set to retire from the construction industry over the next five to ten years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry or invest in the training to up-skill our existing workforce, is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for growth and, to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now."

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