Industry reacts to General Election results

Richard Diment

A week on from finding out Theresa May still has the keys to 10 Downing Street, the industry has reacted the General Election fallout.

Sarah Spink, CEO of the Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA), said: “Despite a General Election, the skills gap in our industry still remains and this cannot be ignored. We need more investment and drive behind training if we are to meet expected output growth of more than 20 per cent by 2019, and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates we will need 224,000 more workers to deliver this. The Government has promised more housing and better infrastructure, but little consideration it seems has been made into who will deliver these projects within the timescales set.

“Our industry is stifled by a shortage of skilled workers, an ageing workforce and the difficulty in accessing skills funding. Specialist vocational training, Apprenticeships and encouraging more young adults to consider construction as an attractive career choice must be a priority. Messages and pledges towards the importance of Apprenticeships seemed to be lacking in MP’s campaign efforts during the run up to the General Election, and attention on the benefits of university-level education outweighed other career pathways. It seemed the Apprenticeship Levy which came into force in April this year was overlooked completely. More relevant qualifications, a greater number of Apprenticeships and better continued professional development of the existing construction workforce needs to be addressed.”

“In addition, many skilled, EU nationals form part of the construction industry, and the LRWA would like to see a pledge from the Government that this workforce will remain. Taking that resource away would add to the skills shortage and further cripple our industry.”

Julia Evans, chief executive of BSRIA echoed these points, saying: “The construction industry needs access to a skilled global workforce – especially from the EU. We need a workforce with the right skills to build these, therefore a fluid skilled labour market is key.

“But building homes is a matter of quality as well as quantity. The focus on more volume makes quality more important than ever and an added emphasis on the status of the quality of homes is vital to guarantee that in challenging the housing crisis, we are not building the costly slums or soulless estates of tomorrow.”

Richard Diment, executive manager for the Lead Sheet Association said: “The unexpected result of the general election doesn’t reduce the urgent need to construct more homes, improve existing buildings and expand our infrastructure. There will be a period of political uncertainty but the Government appears secure in the short to medium term. Early indications are that it may make policy changes which are helpful to the construction sector, for example, a greater emphasis on the needs of industry in the imminent Brexit negotiations. The important thing is that the roofing industry doesn’t falter in its commitment to invest and train so it is able to play its part in delivering the built environment the country needs.”