A new strategy to help steer engineering construction companies through a critical time for the industry has been launched by government skills body, the ECITB.
The strategy identifies the need to replace an ageing workforce and harness technological change as critical challenges for the engineering construction industry up to 2022 and beyond. Over the three-year life of the strategy, £600 bilion-worth of infrastructure projects across the UK will get underway and are set to complete, creating huge demand for skilled employees and for relevant skills training.
The ECITB, which is funded by a levy on industry and supports training courses through a system of funding grants, has spent the past six months consulting with employers and listening to their skills needs both now and in the future. The new three-year strategy pledges to meet current skills needs, committing 70% of expenditure to support current training and 30% to ensure industry has the skills it needs for tomorrow, pledging to invest in technology and innovation as well as recruiting new entrants.
Lynda Armstrong, chair of the ECITB, said, “The engineering construction industry is at a critical juncture. While profit margins are tight in many sectors, we are seeing signs of recovery. But with major new infrastructure projects underway and scheduled for the future, it is crucial industry has the skilled people it needs.
“Unless we prepare for the future by embracing new technology and recruiting new starters to replace our ageing workforce, UK plc will struggle to deliver these projects safely and efficiently.
“Levy rates dropped temporarily at the last review in 2016, however the fall in levy income combined with the continued demand for training means that we face a shortfall of £6 million. To support productivity and demand for training, we know we must restore the levy to its former level.
“I am confident our proposals will help employers meet their current and future skills needs and look forward to engaging with levy payers over the coming months.”
The ECITB has identified four principal areas industry must address:
- Competition for skills – employers in the industry face growing competition for skilled employees from other sectors, such as HS2 and Crossrail, and skills shortages resulting from Brexit
- Industry 4.0 – new data-driven technologies will transform how businesses and their workforces operate, and training must be developed to enable industry to remain competitive
- Demographic change – by 2026, 14% of the current ECI workforce will have retired, meaning industry needs to attract more young and diverse talent
- Competent workforce – a safe, skilled and productive workforce is essential for the engineering construction industry to deliver projects on time, to budget and according to high safety standards.
The ECITB Strategy 2020 – 2022 is available to download here. The formal consultation with ECITB levy payers on the proposed new rates will take place in the autumn.