City skills crisis fear

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The construction industry in Sheffield is facing a ‘retirement timebomb,’ according to the sector’s skills council.

CITB-ConstructionSkills says one in six workers due to retire within 10 years and the number of young people in the industry has more than halved since the start of the recession.

Although the increasing age profile is most pronounced among manual workers, one in five members of the professional come up for retirement in the next 10 years.

Steve Housden, from the skills council in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “CITB-ConstructionSkills is working hard to attract new blood into the industry in Sheffield because if we don’t act now this retirement timebomb could compromise our ability to benefit from the up-turn in the economy when it comes.

“In 1990, more than one in five of workers in the construction industry were aged 24 and under, but today, little more than one in 10 of the sector’s workforce is within this age group. The industry lost a lot of 16-24 year olds during the last recession and, while numbers had started to recover over the last 10 years, the most recent recession has again had a fairly disastrous impact on young people in the sector, particularly 16-19 year olds.”

Mr Housden says the current lack of construction job vacancies has undermined the attractiveness of the sector to many young people.

Many now feared the industry does not offer stable employment and opportunities to progress.

“The risk is that the ageing workforce, coupled with a failure to train and attract sufficient people now, will result in a skills vacuum and manpower shortage in the future.

“The market may pick up any slack through migratory working while technical innovation may reduce the demand on human capital but these factors are hard to predict and the best way to ensure our future success is to encourage new talent into the industry,” added Mr Housden.