• Richard Gawthorpe

    Group Business Development Director

Construction is facing a formidable challenge — a critical shortage of skilled workers that is projected to exceed 230,000 by 2025.

This alarming deficit has far-reaching consequences, hindering the industry’s ability to meet the escalating demand for housing and regeneration projects posing a significant threat to the overall health of the UK economy.

Several factors have contributed to the skills shortage. Demographic trends, including an ageing workforce and a decline in the number of young people entering the field, have constricted the talent pool.

The repercussions of the skills shortage are palpable across the construction landscape. Project delays and cost overruns have become commonplace, jeopardising project completion and profitability.

Furthermore, the industry’s contribution to economic growth is slowing down as it struggles to meet the demands of clients and project partners. The overall competitiveness of the trade is compromised, creating a ripple effect that extends beyond individual projects.

For local authorities in England, the impact is felt by 1.2 million households on the waiting list for social homes and almost 100,000 households living in temporary accommodation.

According to the Local Government Association, as well as being fundamental to tackling the housing crisis, building 100,000 social homes a year would save £24.5 billion of public finances over 30 years. This estimation includes a reduction in the housing benefit bill and temporary accommodation costs.

Yet, while public sector organisations can take advantage of government grants such as the Levelling Up Fund, Salix Decarbonisation Scheme and Affordable Homes Programme to invest in place regeneration, the resource to manage and allocate this funding is often in short supply. Moreover, many teams do not have the expertise in-house to deliver specialist projects to decarbonise current housing stock or planning consultancy and multidisciplinary design services to build new sustainable housing to meet demand.

Amidst this challenging scenario, Norse Consulting has devised a series of proactive solutions to mitigate disruptions. Part of Norse Group, Norse Consulting provides building consultancy services delivering integrated property solutions for the public sector nationwide. With expertise across advisory, design, and estates, supported by a network of specialist services, our operational breadth and scale benefit our clients, partners, and their communities across the whole asset life cycle. Together, we deliver solutions to support local communities better, maintaining a purpose-driven approach to improving the places where people live, work, and receive health and care.

One approach to the skills shortage is evident in Norse Consulting’s collaboration with Cambridgeshire County Council. In 2022, Norse Consulting played a pivotal role in tackling capacity issues by providing property consultancy services for the council. Norse Consulting oversaw a complex development programme, which involved rebuilding a divided team across three key functional areas within the Council.

As a result, the initiative resulted in a number of positive outcomes, including improved service quality, enhanced reputation with stakeholders, and a more cohesive property function within Cambridgeshire County Council. In addition, Norse Consulting upskilled the existing property team within the Council, providing them with the tools to effectively manage current and future projects.

Beyond addressing immediate challenges, Norse Group has developed and optimised a partnership model focussed on mutual long-term prosperity with the capability to deliver major projects at pace and scale. By helping local authorities move away from traditional outsourcing, we retain value in the local community by upskilling employees and developing in-house expertise while also returning money to the public purse.

A prime example is Norse Consulting’s joint venture partnership with London Borough of Waltham Forest, which was created in 2007. Since its inception, Evolve has delivered 729 projects valued at £450 million, including new libraries, schools, affordable homes, and a climate change educational centre.

Finally, Norse Group recognise that our people are our greatest asset. Leveraging a wealth of knowledge and experience across a broad range of building consultancy services, our team plays a pivotal role in enhancing Norse Consulting’s ability to deliver comprehensive multidisciplinary solutions. This includes creating places that benefit people and the planet. Our energy specialists work alongside clients from conception to completion and beyond to support their net zero goals by implementing decarbonisation initiatives and delivering net zero (in use) homes and low-carbon public buildings.

Through innovative solutions, long-term partnerships, and a commitment to ongoing learning, Norse Consulting strives to not only fill immediate gaps but also contribute to the industry’s sustained growth and development. Harnessing our wealth of experience supporting local government, housing sectors, education academies and health and care trusts, we understand what it takes to overcome stumbling blocks to deliver exceptional results and make a positive impact on communities. As the construction industry continues to evolve, such forward-thinking entities become increasingly crucial in shaping a resilient and thriving sector for the future.

Statistics taken from Local Government Association and PAT.