Skills training needed as Brexit threatens labour workforce, warns Steve Gelder

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The construction industry could see an expanding skills gap due to Brexit if businesses aren’t proactive in training the next generation, said Gelder Group CEO Steve Gelder.

Across the country, an ageing workforce means the industry already requires 400,000 new tradesmen by 2025, but a report by Arcadis has warned that Brexit will create a further shortfall of between 135,000 – 200,000.

The British construction sector has been built on overseas labour for generations and experts are warning restrictions to this will hit the industry.

The report warns a potential ‘hard’ Brexit could see a number of EU construction workers entering the UK fail on a points-based system, which is currently in place for non-EU migrants.

However Lincolnshire business leaders have said that this is an opportunity for companies to invest in apprenticeships and for young adults undecided on their future careers to consider the construction industry.

Steve Gelder, CEO of Lincoln-based Gelder Group said: “There are huge opportunities within the UK’s construction sector for school leavers at present and I’d urge any undecided teenager to visit Lincoln College’s Gainsborough campus to learn more.

“Gelder Group has trained over 250 apprentices. Personally, I am a National Apprentice Ambassador and the Gelder Group is a huge supporter of the UK’s first Construction Career College based at the college.”

Despite Brexit tremors, the Lincolnshire construction market continues to grow at a faster rate than other UK regions, meaning that the gap in labour is also growing.

Steve is also urging clients to prioritise companies that invest in apprenticeships for tender lists.

He said: “Local Authority framework agreements often favour national organisations who generally pay lip service to apprenticeships.

“We need to see government contracts let only to those companies who are prepared to reinvest profits back into our kids and not those who exist purely for the benefit of their shareholders.”

Lincoln College Group CEO Gary Headland added: “Although there is uncertainty surrounding the implications of Brexit on free travel in relation to economic migrants, if an even greater vacuum of highly skilled and productive tradespeople does materialise, this would be great opportunity for young people to build sustainable and lucrative careers.

“Through our Construction Career College at Gainsborough, which is supported by the Gelder Group and many other industry partners, we provide a high quality, employer-led route into the industry that gives young people the professional technical training and employability skills they need to secure an apprenticeship or full-time employment.”