Figures from our charity partner Crisis show that a staggering 1.8 million UK households are currently living in unsuitable conditions – facing issues such as damp, mould and overcrowding.1 One of the contributing factors to this is that not enough genuinely affordable homes are being built or repurposed.
And a significant barrier to the supply of these additional homes is a severe skills shortage within the housebuilding sector. Put simply, as the industry struggles to attract talent with the know-how and enthusiasm to innovate, demand is simply not being met.
It’s a serious issue, and one of the reasons why the Group has partnered with Regeneration Brainery - an award-winning, non-profit, academy for youngsters aimed at tackling the skills shortage by boosting diversity in the construction industry and combating the lack of hands-on experience for young people in the sector.
How bad is the UK housing sector skills shortage?
Figures from the UK Parliament show that the construction industry has struggled to close the skills gap. Data from 2021 indicates that firms are struggling to recruit electricians, roof specialists, bricklayers, plasterers and carpenters. And in November 2022, the construction industry accounted for 21% of businesses experiencing a shortage of workers – behind accommodation and food services.2
It’s also worth noting the potential impact that the lack of new housing supply – particularly social housing – is having on the economy. According to a recent report from University College London, building 90,000 genuinely affordable homes per year could save the UK Government £1.5bn per year in homelessness costs. This saving comes from the myriad of benefits derived from greater social housing delivery, such as improved health, a reduction in homelessness and giving children the chance of a better education by providing a safe, secure place to study.3
The lack of a well-trained labour force within the property sector is also having an adverse effect on the UK’s journey to Net Zero. The UK Climate Change Committee progress report on UK emissions cited the progress of decarbonisation of UK homes as "significantly off track" and acknowledged the major skills gap for low carbon heat and energy.4 And recently, Barratt – one of the UK’s biggest housebuilders – warned of a significant skills shortage in the country’s solar panel sector should they become mandatory for all new-build properties.5