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Think tank’s construction skills gap report highlights need for more MMC

A new report warning that skills gaps in the construction industry threaten the UK’s 2050 net zero target highlights the importance of training and embracing new methods of construction, says insulation specialist Actis.

It was responding to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) which calls for leadership from the government and collective action from industry to upskill and retain the existing workforce and encourage recruitment. ‘Skills for a Green Recovery – A call to action for the UK construction sector’ points to a skills drain, with 750,000 construction workers due to retire within the next 15 years and only 20% of workers under the age of 30.

Actis UK and Ireland sales director Mark Cooper, whose company works with many timber frame manufacturers, says this latest report is yet another reminder that, while employment levels and green skills training need to be increased, so does adoption of more energy efficient, consistent and quicker methods of construction.

“Houses produced offsite can be built up to 30% more quickly than traditional brick and block, delivering much needed homes at a faster rate and using fewer man hours per unit. And costs can be reduced by as much as 25%. But their ability to offset a smaller than desirable workforce is not the prime driver to increase the use of this method of construction. Because they are factory produced, quality consistency is far easier to control. They can be thermally superb, cutting carbon emissions and saving money for the occupier.

“Timber framers choose our Actis Hybrid system because it offers a thermally superb envelope with no thermal bridging. The products can also be installed quickly, cleanly and effectively with ease by someone who has had minimal training, possibly via our snappy on-line tutorials. Installing Actis insulation can take half the time of solid board alternatives, adding further time savings to the overall build process to help counter the skills gap.”

The report’s message has been backed by industry heavyweights including government MMC champion Mark Farmer and bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Federation of Master Builders and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) who are calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to support the sector to get the green skills it needs.

Mark Farmer, author of the 2016 Farmer Review and 2020’s Build Back Better, added: “The IPPR has set out in this report a refreshed challenge to government and industry to make sure we make the most of our current and future workforce, equipping them with the right skills in conjunction with broader objectives to increase MMC and associated technology adoption. Without this approach, plans to Build Back Better and enable a green recovery could be scuppered from the start.”

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