Who is going to build the homes to meet the demand?

Last week, Richard Carr wrote about the rise in first time buyers’ sales of homes in the last 12 months, however recent research suggests that this growth is unlikely to be maintained as home builders face a severe shortage of workers.

Firms lacking man power

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Since the general election the property market has grown, with incentives for both home builders and buyers to improve the sector.

However, as Richard Carr wrote about earlier in the year, there’s still a desperate lack of workers to meet the increasing demand. According to some of the UK’s largest home firms, it’s not a lack of materials or sites that is preventing house builders, but just a lack of manpower.

The government promised an ambitious target during its election campaign regarding the number of homes being built per year by 2020 – and if they are to meet it, a sharp upturn in recruitment is needed.

Lacking skill

One of the major problems with recruitment within the industry is the lack of skilled tradesman, a problem which is effecting Weston Homes.

“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,” said Bob Weston, the firm’s chairman and chief executive.

“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,” he added.

Next steps

The situation is just as bad for small and medium sized firms with some having to turn down work because they simply don’t have the resource. Firms believe that the problem lies in apprenticeships and the lack of apprentices coming through the system. It’s widely believed that children are being encouraged to go into higher education rather than into the apprenticeship system.

Weston Homes recently sent 6,500 letters into local schools to try and encourage youngsters to take on apprenticeships, however for them the problem is at the other end of the scale.

“It takes two years to train skilled workers and five years to train our best recruits to management level, though of course development lasts a lifetime. Finding someone with 20 plus years of experience is becoming increasingly rare and difficult,” Weston said.

“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.”