Small house builders predict that skills shortages in the building industry will hamper housing delivery and will eventually overtake access to finance as a bigger barrier to building new homes, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Key results from the FMB’s House Builders’ Survey 2018, the only annual assessment of small and medium sized (SME) house builders in England, include:
- The percentage of SME house builders saying that a shortage of skilled workers is a major barrier to their ability to build more new homes rose to 44% (up from 42% in 2017)
- A lack of available and viable land tops the list as the most commonly cited barrier (59%) to increasing housing delivery and almost two-thirds of SME house builders (62%) believe that the number of opportunities for small site development are actually decreasing (up from 54% in 2017)
- Nearly half of small house builders (46%) say access to finance is a major barrier to their ability to build more new homes
- More than half (51%) of SME house builders view the planning system as a major constraint on their ability to grow and ‘inadequate resourcing of planning departments’ was again rated as the most significant cause of delay in the planning application process for the third year in a row
- When asked to look ahead over the next three years, more firms cited skills shortages as a likely barrier to growth than access to finance.
FIS remain highly concerned about the skills mix in and around our sector and not just in housing – the potential impact on build-out and quality is significant. From statistics developed with Home Builders Federation (HBF) we know that we will need 3,320 dryliners/plasterers to meet the government target to build 300,000 houses, 400 tradespeople in our occupations per 10,000 houses built. Housing currently makes up approximately one third of our sector but with the growth forecast leaning towards this area of construction backed by Government’s very clear objective. We see that the gap is growing and there is a hole in the bucket!
At the FIS we see this as our number one challenge and, in addition to reaching into schools, new apprenticeship trailblazers and working with colleges and local employers to ensure that those studying for a diploma find employment, our sector leading BuildBack campaign is already up and running targeting the longer term unemployed to refocus and reskill them to help meet this demand. We must recognise this is a systemic problem and ensure that, working with CITB, the Skills Challenge Fund and as a group of trade bodies that our efforts are not on sticking plaster solutions, but fundamental and wholescale cultural change that will deliver us the numbers and quality of people that we need, sustainably.
To access the full survey click here; FMB’s House Builders’ Survey 2018, the only annual assessment of small and medium sized (SME) house builders in England.