Labour Forecasting tool could revolutionise the industry

Greater Manchester required an accurate way to predict the labour skills needed to complete up to £15bn of work in the area’s construction pipeline. They pioneered a research methodology that they believe could revolutionise the industry.

With falling budgets and every penny needing to be spent wisely, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce sought a new way to predict labour skills needs for the £15 billion of construction work in their area. They chose CITB's Labour Forecasting Tool and feel that it could revolutionise the industry.

This is just the sort of evidence we need to change the training provision in Greater Manchester.”

Joss Underwood, Construction Sector Lead, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Manchester Chamber of Commerce Construction Sector Lead, Joss Underwood, took a lead role working with CITB’s new Labour Forecasting Tool (LFT).

“Part of our role is to make sure the sector gets what it needs in terms of skills, training, policing and research. We pioneered the Labour Forecasting Tool as part of the Contractors’ Council and our experience has been brilliant. We would always look to work with them [CITB} in future.  With further developments, we could have a tool that could revolutionise the industry.”

Developed by CITB, with technical expertise from WLC Ltd, part of the University of Dundee, the LFT accurately anticipates the skills needed on a project – or like Greater Manchester – a complex number of projects. It uses data compiled from hundreds of past projects from different sub sectors to predict skills required and timings, in a month-by-month report. As the tool’s database is online and constantly updated, it incorporates all the latest information in its analysis.

Joss said that, by working with CITB, she had achieved a true reflection of the labour and skills requirement on that pipeline, ensuring their pooled resources had created a sustainable journey for apprentices and replacing a lot of work that had been done on a piecemeal process in the past.

“The LFT looked at three areas for us. What the £15bn pipeline was, what the skills requirement was to deliver it and what training we did in Greater Manchester last year so we could see the skills gap. This is the evidence we need to change the training provision in Greater Manchester,” Joss said.

3 steps to accurate forecasting

Customers purchase either a licence to use the LFT through a fixed period or buy one-off reports from CITB for a fixed fee. The LFT requires only basic information to produce an initial report.

1)     Project type and location

2)     Project value or gross floor area

3)     Start and end dates

From this, the tool produces a month-by-month forecast for every trade, including professions and, if required, an estimate of end-user labour requirements so customers are covered even once a building is operational.

When the Greater Manchester data was put through the LFT, Joss said the results were surprising.

“In Greater Manchester last year, we trained 500 bricklayers with a diploma, but in the pipeline the requirement was for only 100.

Meanwhile, the LFT requirement for building envelope specialists, which we had heard from employers was needed but we had no evidence, showed we needed 204 every year. Last year, only four NVQs were trained.”

This is just the sort of evidence we need to change the training provision in Greater Manchester so we can now better align our training provision,” Joss continued, “Instead of training 500 bricklayers, we can use that money more effectively.”

Another result of using the LFT was that Joss worked on developing steel-fixing training locally, which previously had only been done out of London.

“The CITB team was helpful in terms of the day-to-day support with research and analysis. The training was excellent and the handbook was a really thorough resource.