As part of the Housing Forum Futures Network Cohort, Associate, Simon Gabe is involved in a task group looking at the industry wide skills shortage against the impact of the housing crisis.

Simon looks at the research behind the problem, and why the Housing Forum’s Future Network Cohort is focusing on this issue for 2024.

With 140,000 vacancies and low opinions of the industry, are younger generations likely to aspire to work in construction?

The Housing Crisis continues to dominate headlines in recent years, especially in the lead up to this year’s general election where housing is becoming one of the key battlegrounds. While the crisis and its numerous causalities are well documented, there  is a clear lack of recognition and understanding regarding the relationship between the skills shortage and the supply of housing. We need to build more and faster, yet the industry is moving in the opposite direction—Q4 2023 figures show a consecutive quarterly decline in annualised housing completions[1].Recent research highlights the construction industry’s PR problem, and attraction as a valid career pathway for future generations.

The industry’s alarming lack of appeal is glaringly evident, as UK adults of working age show an astonishingly low inclination to pursue a career in construction. An overwhelming 69% outright reject the idea[2], signalling a significant disconnect between the sector’s offerings and the aspirations of the workforce. .

With 140,000 vacancies[3] and low opinions of the industry, are younger generations likely to aspire to work in construction?

We are at a critical juncture; the industry needs skilled workers to deliver much-needed housing provision, yet the current perceptions of construction are not encouraging people into these roles.

There are clear steps to be taken to address this:

  1. Assess the shortage and current perceptions

The ‘Deconstruction’ report, supported by YouGov, goes some way to outlining the common feelings towards construction as whole. 70% of respondents associate ‘strenuous’ with construction jobs, while 52% associate ‘dirty’ with the industry.

  1. Educate about the industry and the different roles within construction

Current perceptions bring to light the need for a wide education piece which outlines the variety of roles, levels and skills throughout the construction industry. As the report states, those surveyed ‘are likely to be unaware of more off-site careers; architects, planners, technicians, designers, marketers and testing specialists’.

  1. Develop comprehensive plans and structure to develop the necessary skills in the younger generations and get them excited about career opportunities in construction

Significant strides are being taken with improved accessibility through T-Levels, apprenticeships, and targeted interventions engaging younger individuals in the industry. We also believe that offsite construction has the potential to stand out as a critical player in this progress. Apart from its ability to expedite housing projects, offsite construction provides safer, cleaner, and more comfortable workspaces, which, if sufficiently promoted, could assist with attracting younger talent to the construction sector. However, the skills shortage will not be easily fixed, with an estimated 225,000 construction vacancies predicted by the year 2027[1].

So where does the Housing Forum come in?

Every year the Housing Forum’s Futures Network Cohort looks at a particular issue in detail on the housing sector.

The Futures Network are working to understand the shortage through several different avenues and an upcoming series of media releases produced by the Network will look more closely at the areas of focus.

Each intervention is comparably small; together, and in line with others across sectors, there is an opportunity to relaunch the industry as an exciting prospect for younger generations, those looking for a career change or re-entering the industry.  

The ‘construction crisis point could hit as early as 2025’ – we need to have an industry-wide strategy to make a tangible difference to these concerning statistics.

I’m excited to work with the wider Housing Forum’s Futures Network 2024 cohort, to play a part in bringing these issues to the wider public, and propose action to overcome them.

Watch this space as we launch our findings later in the year.

[1] csn-national-report-final-report.pdf (

[1] Savills (n.d.) UK housing market update: Spring 2024. [online] Savills Research.

[2] Deconstruction Report 2023, Deconstruction. Changing perceptions of the construction industry (

[3] 140,000 vacancies in construction trades as skills shortage continues (

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