Skills boost on the horizon for construction SMEs in 2023

Posted on 14 Feb 2023 by The Manufacturer

A new poll of SMEs across the construction sector reveals – while 2023 may be a challenging year – they still expect on average a 20% growth in revenue.

The Skills Horizon barometer, launched by the Skills for Life campaign, asked 1,250 SMEs in England about their challenges and opportunities when it comes to skills and recruitment in the year ahead, has found many are exploring the best ways to strengthen their workforce to achieve this growth. In the construction sector specifically, it reveals 61% are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce, bolstering their capabilities for the year ahead.

The Skills for Life campaign aims to help SMEs understand all the training and employment schemes available to them, including Apprenticeships, T Levels, Skills Bootcamps, HTQs and Multiply numeracy courses. Businesses who are considering hiring employees can access a range of government programmes offering work experience or upskilling existing staff, some of which offer financial incentives. This moment in the campaign follows last week’s National Apprenticeship Week, dedicated to celebrating apprenticeships and the newer introduction of T Levels to highlight their positive impact on communities, businesses, and the wider economy.

Nearly half (40%) of SMEs in the construction industry rank staffing challenges – such as recruitment and skills – amongst their top three concerns for 2023. However, nearly half (45%) plan to invest in building digital skills within their company and over a third (35%) will encourage staff to engage in current or free training resources – such as Skills for Life Bootcamps. Many SMEs in the construction sector are hoping this will help them tackle the challenges they face with recruitment and staffing in 2023, as they cite their three top recruitment and staffing concerns as retaining staff (39%), not having enough employees with the right skills (43%) and not being able to recruit new employees with the right skills (40%) and. Over a quarter (29%) are seeking to hire from broad education routes such as apprentices and T Levels students.

Construction apprentice apprenticeship stock image - shutterstock

In the construction sector specifically, 61% of SMEs are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce, bolstering their capabilities for the year ahead. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: 

“Boosting skills in key sectors like digital, manufacturing and healthcare is essential to building a skills nation and the government is investing in resources and skills qualifications – spending over £3.8bn this Parliament.

“This investment is being recognised by SMEs who are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce this year, and I would encourage businesses of all sizes follow suit.

“Whether it’s through apprenticeships, T Levels or courses in essential numeracy and literacy skills, there are free and flexible ways for employers to tap into the highly skilled workforce they need to thrive.”

Christian Hatherall-Good, Training Manager at Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd – a leading UK brickwork and scaffolding company – says,

“We take on young people via entry level schemes and apprenticeships, and support them in their education and development to ensure they’re at the required level to meet the business needs.”

“As an organisation we’re very proactive when it comes to upskilling staff across the board. We continue to invest by putting people through additional qualifications, such as supervisory courses. The process is working well as we’re growing from within and future-proofing the company. We hope that individuals joining the company now will still be with us in ten years time, so we’re investing in the future.”

To find training and employment schemes for your business, as well as support on how to implement these, visit:

Read more of our People & Skills articles here