A £30,000 project aimed to improve the skills of construction industry
workers across the West Midlands is being launched by The Chamber for Coventry and
Warwickshire to prevent an increasing use of craftsmen from countries like Germany and
"The industry needs an analysis of the skills needed in a changing market so that
we can develop a strategy for the construction industry which will ensure that local
companies have the properly trained labour they need to compete effectively," said
Dr. Jane Holland, research manager at The Chamber.
A steering group will direct the research, made up of employers, construction bodies
and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The results will be fed to employers
through conferences and workshops.
"Unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manual workers are particularly vulnerable to
industrial change," said Dr. Holland.
"We need to assess those likely changes, and the training needed to develop the
skills of people in the industry.
"Conversely, we already know from initial telemarketing research we carried out
last December, that we can anticipate a shortage of carpenters and bricklayers."
The project aims to help nearly 3,700 construction companies in the West Midlands
realise their full job-creating potential.
Of these 43 per cent are small companies or owner managers-up from 23 per cent in
1981-and 90 per cent employ only a dozen, or less.
The Chamber will contribute £11,500 and has won support of £13,500 from the European
Social Fund. The CITB and Birmingham and Solihull Training and Enterprise Council will
make up the balance.
The CITB forecasts that by the year 2003 employment in construction will increase by
97,000-and nearly 30,000 of those will be in the West Midlands.
Dr. Holland added:
"Yet training provision is already well below demand and 34 per cent of companies
we questioned said that skill shortages were the key issue facing the industry. However,
only 63 per cent of companies provide training."
The Chamber says that for some crafts employers are already looking to Italy and
Ireland to fill vacancies.
For recent refurbishment at Merry Hill, Dudley, plasterers had to be brought in from
Germany because not enough were available locally.
It also points to 14 major building projects coming up in the West Midlands, including
the redevelopment of Birmingham's Bull Ring, extension of Birmingham Airport, and the
Northern Relief Road.
In Coventry proposed major works include the Foleshill gas works regeneration scheme
and Coventry Colliery redevelopment.