'A severe shortfall': More skilled construction workers needed to meet Government home-building targets

One of the UK’s largest house builders has advised that it is not a lack of materials, sites or ability that limits the industries’ ability to meet targets, it is a lack of workers. Bob Weston, Chairman and Chief Executive of Weston Homes noted that for 200,000 new homes built by 2020, a target pledged in the Conservative manifesto, recruitment in the industry would have to take a sharp upturn from current numbers, especially for the most highly skilled.

Bob Weston commented: “Whilst we as an industry are committed to the target of more affordable homes available to first-time buyers, Weston Homes has had to really ramp up its recruitment in order to meet these targets. We currently have a shortfall within the industry of skilled tradesmen, construction managers and fabricators; especially those with many years experience providing the quality we expect. Weston Homes has recently sent 6,500 letters to local schools, attempting to attract more young people into apprenticeships and eventually the construction industry to meet the shortfall.

In the last month Weston Homes has taken on 23 new recruits into its apprenticeship scheme, who join in to the around 20% of Weston Homes employees studying for NVQ’s, attending ILM management training or on sponsored day-release courses. A member of the ‘5% club’ since 2014 and accredited by Investors In People (IIP), Weston Homes is committed to giving future generations the training they need to thrive in the construction industry.

Bob Weston continues: “It takes 2 years to train skilled workers and 5 years to train our best recruits to management level, though of course development lasts a lifetime. Finding someone with twenty plus years of experience is becoming increasingly rare and difficult. We have always been committed to getting more young people involved in the industry, and with these new affordable home targets we will need, as an industry, to open our doors to bright young apprentices.

Within the same manifesto, there is a commitment to the Help to Buy scheme which has recently been used by around a fifth of customers at Aura Edgware, along with a further commitment to the regeneration of brownfield land; an area in which Weston Homes is now an acknowledged leader. 

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