More than 9,200 additional construction workers will be needed in the North East of England by 2026 to meet growing demand in the industry, according to the latest Construction Skills Network report.

The largest increases in annual demand in the North East of England are expected to be for occupations including wood trades and interior fit out (370 per year) and plant operatives (310 per year). This comes as private housing, non-housing maintenance and repair, commercial and infrastructure sectors are set to see the fastest rates of growth in the region.

The report finds that over a quarter of a million construction workers are needed across the UK to fulfil demand. If projected growth is met on a national scale, construction employment across the UK is forecasted to reach a high of nearly 2.78 million workers by 2026.

Read more: New report says price, not sales, driving construction growth

With job vacancies at a record high, and unemployment at its lowest level in 50 years, the report forecasts that recruitment and developing a highly skilled workforce will be the biggest challenge construction will face over the next five years.

This comes as CITB urges industry and government to come together in refreshing the way the industry hires and trains, making construction an attractive place for everyone to work.

CITB Engagement Director for England, Deborah Madden, said: “Construction is vital in developing and strengthening our regional and national economies, and our report shows the future is bright for the North East of England.

“The North East’s 2.6% annual output growth predictions are encouraging. Major construction projects like the £2.6bn Blyth Gigafactory and the £200m Teesworks Freeport will help to drive growth and investment in the North East’s construction. The industry has a lot to offer, and it must use its many strengths, and projects like these, to attract and retain top talent in a competitive recruitment landscape.

“Training routes into the industry will be a focus for us and we must attract and retain more people from right across the North East of England. It will be a major task, but the industry needs to evolve and grow to reach its untapped potential not only for prosperity of North East’s economy but also for the success of the UK’s economy.”

In CITB’s Business Plan, launched last month, three core challenges are set out. These challenges, which reflect the views of employers and a wide variety of stakeholders, are:

Responding to the skills demands: Each year, an estimated 50,000 new recruits are needed in the industry, but there are barriers to attracting new talent. Research indicates only 30% of potential new recruits feel that construction is ‘for them’.

Developing the capacity and capability of construction training provision: Mandatory core occupational skills training needs to be delivered efficiently and conveniently.

Addressing future skills needs: Industry wants to develop the non-technical skills of the construction managers of today and leaders of tomorrow. Behavioural skills training, digital skills and Net Zero ways of working are becoming increasingly important.

The plan shows how CITB will invest over £233m across Britain to support construction throughout 2022/23. CITB will create more accessible routes into construction, with a focus on apprenticeships providing first-hand experience of working on site.

The Construction Industry Training Board is a sector skills council and industry training board for the construction industry, delivering a safe, professional and fully qualified workforce by encouraging employers of all sizes to access the skills training necessary to grow their businesses.

CITB is an arm’s-length body of the UK Government’s Department for Education and is paid for by a levy on the construction industry itself.