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General election ‘24: What does it hold for the construction sector?

03 July, 2024
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What construction firms will be looking for in the manifestos

After weathering months of fierce economic headwinds, UK construction is starting to see the benefits of more stable, favourable conditions.

Input cost inflation is slowing, even if marginally, while new business pipelines are strengthening. The industry will be hoping that the election delivers the support that it needs to capitalise on new opportunities and bolster its resilience.

What will firms be looking for, and what are the main parties pledging to deliver?

Building skills

Earlier this year, before the election was called, we asked decisionmakers at construction businesses across the country what they wanted to see the government prioritise to support their future prospects as part of our latest construction report.

Their responses reflect what they’ll likely still be hoping for from any new government taking power from July.

One issue at the top of the list is a focus on skills development. All three main parties have committed to improving skills generally – from the Conservatives’ plans to create 100,000 new apprenticeships by 2029, to Labour’s plans to create a ‘Skills England’ body and the Liberal Democrats’ proposal for new ‘Lifelong Skills Grants’.

But alongside this, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged construction-specific measures, with the former promising a workforce and training plan for construction, and the latter offering investment in construction skills and training.

Firms will no doubt welcome the fact that their specific needs have been recognised. But – as always – they’ll be keen to scrutinise the detail on how this will be delivered, and hopeful that they’ll have a say in what training would be most beneficial.

They’ll also want to know that any support will be implemented quickly. Along with fundamental labour shortfalls, industry leaders have been warning of skills shortages for years, and deficits are now affecting the capability to deliver projects as well as holding back the country’s capabilities in crucial areas like the adoption of new digital technologies, decarbonisation and the delivery of major infrastructure projects.

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