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Will Additions to the SOL Be Enough to Plug the Skills Gap?

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Will Additions to the SOL Be Enough to Plug the Skills Gap

Will Additions to the SOL Be Enough to Plug the Skills Gap?

A recent Construction Skills Network (CSN) report has said that an extra 225,000 construction workers may be needed by 2027. So the recent review and updates to the Shortage Occupation List by the Government have been welcomed by the Construction industry. But will it be enough to plug the gap?


Highlights from the report include:


Additional workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2027 (45,000 workers per year, down from last year's figure of 53,200).

UK-Wide Growth

All nine English regions plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to experience growth.


The major sectors for demand are:

  • Private housing

  • Infrastructure

  • Repair and maintenance

2.67 million

Workers in the construction industry by 2027 if projected growth is met.


With demand higher than ever and skill shortages remaining an issue across the industry, it’s great news that five more trade sectors are to be added to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) making it easier for skilled trades to apply for work visas and fill the skills shortage gap.

What is the SOL?

The SOL contains key jobs thought to be in short supply within the UK by the UK Government. These roles are given more relaxed criteria for sponsored work visa applications.

Those working in a shortage occupation can be paid 80% of the job’s average salary and still qualify for a visa while benefiting from a lower visa application fee.

To help meet demand for labour in key sectors, the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a ‘rapid assessment’ of the existing SOL for the construction industry.


Which skilled construction trades have been added to the SOL visa list?

  • Bricklayers and Masons

  • Roofers, Roof Tilers and Slaters

  • Carpenters and Joiners

  • Plasterers

  • Construction and building trades N.E.C.

Further construction trades awaiting a review decision for inclusion are:

  • Steel Erectors

  • Scaffolders, Stagers and Riggers

  • Road Construction Operatives

  • Ceiling Fixers

  • Mobile Machine Drivers and Operatives N.E.C.

  • Elementary Construction Occupations

With that in mind, how do we attract new people into the industry?

The CITB Construction Skills Network forecast has said that Construction has bounced back quicker than expected from the Covid-19 pandemic, but the demand for skills is higher than ever.

To compete, thrive and grow in an ever-changing industry, new skills are essential, any business looking to compete for staff in this market must look at their long-term plans as well as the immediate issues. A successful apprenticeship scheme will be central to that.

CITB Policy Director Steve Radley said:

‘It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities. We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with the government and FE to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.’

Encouraging courses from a young age could help guide young people into construction careers via the apprenticeship route.

So, what is out there currently to attract people into apprenticeships as well as tapping into new talent pools?


CITB's Strategic Plan 2021-25 supports employers to bring people into work and provide the training they need. The Plan includes expanding work experiences, creating a new pathway from FE into apprenticeships and jobs, and boosting the number of apprentices completing their programmes.

Highlights of the Strategic Plan include:

  • Investing £110m to support apprentices and employers, on top of grant support, to increase overall numbers and completion rates

  • Support for 28,000 taster experiences and investment in Go-Construct to give people the chance to see the wide range of opportunities construction offers and how to access them

  • Using the Grants Scheme and other funding to help employers invest in training to first rebuild after the pandemic and then modernise and raise productivity.

The Strategic Plan can be seen in full here

Want to find out more?

If you’re feeling inspired and would like to find out more about how your business could get involved? You can do that right here.

Women into Construction

Women into Construction is an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in construction.

They provide bespoke support to women wishing to work in the construction industry and assist contractors to recruit highly motivated, trained women, helping to reduce skills gaps and create a more gender-equal workforce.

They support workers and businesses with:

  • Bespoke Short Employment Programme

  • Seconded WiC Project Manager

  • Student Mentoring Programme

  • Sub-contract Entry to Employment Programme

  • Work Placements

With women making up half the population, it’s great to see the industry looking at tapping into this talent pool. Want to find out more about how your business could get involved? Click here.


These are just some examples of initiatives that are focusing on a long-term solution for the staffing and skills shortage. Construction has the potential to offer real career opportunities for young people and women, whatever their background – we need to let them know what is available to them.

Future talent pipeline is something that we talk about a lot as a team, let us know your thoughts on what’s currently available around the skills shortage. Know of another great initiative? Let us know!