350,000 new construction roles to be created by 2028

To ensure the UK government’s commitment to achieving Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is on track, the construction industry will require the equivalent of 350,000 new roles to be created by 2028.

These will need to be found through a mix of new skilled jobs, increased efficiencies in existing roles, and innovation in how the industry decarbonises the built environment. That’s the key finding of Building Skills for Net Zero, published by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) today (15 March).

UK construction contributes approximately 40% of the UK’s emissions according to the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) and reducing this to Net Zero represents a huge challenge. Yet the move to cleaner, greener construction presents big opportunities to make the industry more attractive to new recruits and upskill the existing workforce.

A critical element of achieving Net Zero will be reducing carbon emissions from existing buildings. Across the UK 80% of buildings in use in 2050 have already been built and these could represent 95% of future built environment emissions. Reducing emissions to Net Zero will require retrofit work on up to 27 million domestic and 2 million non-domestic buildings.

CITB has modelled the skills profile of the workforce needed to deliver Net Zero using data from the Climate Change Committee (CCC). This shows that by 2028, additional decarbonisation work will have created the demand for 86,000 construction project managers, 33,000 building envelope specialists and 59,000 plumbers and HVAC specialists.

This opportunity comes alongside the COVID-19 pandemic and an expected rise in unemployed workers coming from other sectors. This is a perfect time for the construction to position itself as a career destination of choice for people who really want to make a difference.

CITB’s research shows that reducing built environment emissions to Net Zero can be achieved if there is an industry-wide investment in skills, far-reaching skills policy reform and an unprecedented recruitment drive. The challenge is great, but so are the rewards, giving thousands of people new career opportunities as we emerge from a time of national crisis.

Chris Carr, Managing Director of Carr & Carr Builders, and Federation of Master Builders Board Member, said: “The skills challenge around Net Zero is huge and this research shows how it can be tackled. A big part of it will be upskilling the current workforce so that they understand what sustainable building is all about. I welcome this report and the Construction Leadership Council’s National Retrofit Strategy which show how, if we work together as an industry, we can make construction greener while seizing opportunities for growth.”

CITB Strategy and Policy Director Steve Radley said: “Net Zero presents a huge challenge for construction but an even greater opportunity to create a more productive industry that’s also a more attractive career option.

“We can get there by being clear on the key skills we’ll need, making sure we have the right courses and qualifications to deliver them and getting on with investing in them. Industry is already delivering what is needed, but it needs to happen at scale. The training sector must act now as employers’ needs will change fast. A joined up approach to skills across the built environment is key.

“Government also has a key role in specifying what it wants and creating the pipeline of demand that will give industry the confidence to invest in the skills we need and for providers to invest in the courses we need to deliver these skills.”

The CITB’s report is published to compliment the CLC Skills Plan, which sets out industry action to modernise and decarbonise skills, and CO2nstructZero, a collaborative industry change programme to deliver Net Zero.