With a projected population of 74.5 million in 2050, the UK will require a construction workforce of 1.02 million to support the demands of the country, according to research from Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering.

The research has indicated that in order to achieve the required workforce in 2050, the industry will need to grow by 9,650 personnel a year on average (from 2008), with 663,000 needing to be employed currently in order to be on track. With recent employment growth the workforce is larger than the minimum required, with 875,000 employees.

Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad, said: “The UK lost a lot of skilled construction talent over the course of the downturn as overseas markets offered more work and better pay. Fortunately, the domestic construction environment has improved over the last year as large-scale infrastructure projects have boosted demand.

“This demand has allowed the sector to increase the number of people in the workforce, however significant skills gaps are still apparent. Put simply, the number of unskilled workers aren’t an issue for the industry, but attracting and retaining highly skilled people – whether it’s in trades, technical or professions such as surveying – is a challenge that still needs to be tackled. The HMRC’s proposed plans to make it more difficult to prove true self-employment could also have a significant impact if it goes ahead.”

This shortfall in skills has also been identified by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). In contrast to the Randstad analysis, CITB research draws from a wider employment pool and includes all employees currently working across both the construction and engineering sectors, including qualified engineers, architects and office-based staff.

This employment analysis, combined with a forecast of construction output over the next four years, shows the construction and engineering sector will require 182,000 more staff by 2018 to satisfy demand.

Meanwhile, the engineering sector is lagging behind the required growth rate to fulfil long-term demand. The number of qualified engineers working in the UK has fallen from 340,000 in 2008 to 317,000 in 2013, leaving the industry 48,000 engineers short of the 365,000 needed if the sector is to grow enough to support the population of 2050.

Overall, the UK is currently 268,000 employees short of the number required across key sectors to satisfy the long-term demand of the country.