UKCW Birmingham: 1-3 October 2024 | NEC
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UKCW Blog

20 Jun 2024

UK CONSTRUCTION WEEK CALLS ON NEXT GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE ON THE SECTOR'S SKILLS GAP AND MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

UK CONSTRUCTION WEEK CALLS ON NEXT GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE ON THE SECTOR'S SKILLS GAP AND MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

Organisers of UK Construction Week (UKCW), the UK’s biggest event for the built environment, have welcomed a number of construction policies and initiatives announced by the main UK political parties in the build-up to the General Election - but say more needs to be done to tackle mental health, the skills gap, and streamlining planning processes.

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With under three weeks before the country goes to the polls, all the major parties have now published their manifestos, with the following key pledges and policies for construction:

Conservatives

  • Building 1.6m homes in England through the next Parliament

  • Fast-tracking brownfield residential developments in cities

  • Introduce reforms to outdated EU red tape to better protect nature while enabling the building of new homes, new prisons and new energy schemes

Labour

  • Delivering 1.5m new homes in England over the next five years

  • Updating the National Policy Planning Framework to restore mandatory housing targets

  • Fast-tracking approval of urban brownfield sites, prioritise release of ‘grey belt’ land

Liberal Democrats

  • Building of 380,000 new homes a year across the UK, including 150,000 social homes

  • Introducing ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning permission for any developers refusing to build

  • Review cancellation of the northern leg of HS2 and seek a way that “provides value for money” or identify a viable alternative

Sam Patel, Divisional Director – Construction, commented: “We welcome all of the key parties’ pledges to build more houses, but more needs to be done to bring young talent into the industry to address the skills gap; it’s vital that our government addresses the spiralling numbers of suicides in construction; and we urgently need a streamlined planning process.”

​The team behind UKCW Birmingham has drawn up its own ‘election manifesto’ - a wishlist of pledges and policies which it would like to see from the next government:

  • Urgently address the mental health issue in construction;  in 2021, 507 construction workers took their own lives, equivalent to two workers every day. The next UK government must work with industry leaders to stem this disturbing trend. Mental health is a key focus at UKCW Birmingham and an increasingly pressing topic. This year’s event will see mental health discussed across several of the show hubs. 

  • Bridge the skills gap - the UK Trade Skills Index 2023 highlighted the need for 937,000 new recruits in the construction and trades industry over the next decade; more must be done at schools and colleges to not only raise awareness of the broad range of jobs available in construction, but also to remove the image of construction work only being ‘dirty jobs’ and only for men. UKCW Birmingham will once again be working in partnership with the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) at the Skills & Training Hub, which was a huge success at UKCW London in May.

  • There is an urgent need to streamline planning processes; the next government needs to commit to infrastructure delivery, and communicate more with contractors, clients and trade bodies to better understand how they operate. This will be another hot topic discussed at UKCW Birmingham, where professionals across the industry come together for networking and knowledge sharing.

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Sam Patel added: “The UK construction industry employs over 1.5 million people and contributes more than £130 billion to the economy, so it’s vital that the sector’s voice is heard by the next government.

​“The theme for this autumn’s UKCW Birmingham is ‘Growth’, and we’ll be unpicking the new government’s plans, discussing the industry’s own roadmap and coming together to ensure that our voice is heard.”

UK Construction Week (UKCW) Birmingham makes a welcome return to the NEC this autumn when it runs from 1st to 3rd October, with three days of insight, innovation and inspiration.

​Opened by architect and Channel 4 presenter George Clarke, UKCW Birmingham attracts visitors and exhibitors from across the globe, and will showcase a host of international exhibitors from the likes of Turkey, China and India.

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​The multi award-winning show will feature over 200 exhibitors. 300-plus seminars, CPD sessions and workshops, and over 300 thought leaders and keynote speakers. 

​To find out more and register for UKCW Birmingham for free, click here

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