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Massive job losses predicted in 2009

SummitSkills estimates there could be job losses of between 67,000 and 154,000 across the building services engineering sector in 2009.

The figures are based on research carried out by the organisation among building services engineering consultants gauging how the recession will lead to the cancellation of work in the coming year.

SummitSkills has used this data to estimate how jobs further along the supply chain will be affected.

Fifty-six BSE consultants, including small single site and large multi-site companies, took part in the research.

The research looked at five sectors - private commercial; private industrial; private housing; social housing and major public works – and asked consultants what percentage of projects were likely to be cancelled or mothballed due to the recession.

Consultants were asked for best and worst case scenarios, with private housing looking gloomiest (best case 32 per cent, worst case 55.75 per cent). Perhaps surprisingly consultants were also fairly pessimistic about major public works, which includes schools and hospitals (best case 20.4 per cent, worst case 44.2 per cent).

Work in 2009 likely to be mothballed or cancelled

 Sector  Best case  Worst case
 Private Commercial  11.62%  35.58%
 Private Industrial   30.96%  49.36%
 Private Housing   32%  55.75%
 Social Housing   10.4%  29.6%
 Major Public Works   20.4%  44.2%

SummitSkills believes the cancellation or postponement of work will force companies to make redundancies. In the worst case scenario around two fifths of heating and ventilating engineers employed in 2008 would be out of work.

Predicted job losses

 Sector   2008  Best case  Worst case
 Electrical Trades and Installation  196,810  35,490  82,125
 Plumbing  90,424  16,306  37,731
 Heating and Ventilation  55,645  10,034  23,222
 AC and Refrigeration  27,821  5,121  11,621

Overall, SummitSkills estimates there could be job losses of between 67,000 and 154,000 across the building services engineering sector.

Keith Marshall OBE, chief executive of SummitSkills, said: “Our estimates are based on assumptions that can be influenced by numerous variables, but it’s inevitable that businesses will be, and have already been, affected by the recession.

'Rather than doom-mongering, our emphasis is on being realistic and providing the sector with an appreciation of where consultants feel that work may be cut back. By being aware of the potential consequences, we can start to prepare contingency measures to assist BSE employers.”

As a result of this research, SummitSkills has identified four key areas to work on with its stakeholders with the aim of reducing the impact of the recession on the sector.

These four work areas will explore ways to:

1. Redeploy and maintain the training of redundant apprentices - transferring or
sharing apprentices between employers to allow them to complete their training,
preparing them for an upturn in work following the recession.

2. Support employers to develop the skills of existing workers in new market
areas – helping employers exploit emerging markets which are likely to grow (such
as microgeneration, sustainable buildings and meeting zero carbon aspirations) as
we come out of recession, by encouraging course provision and funding availability.

3. Support the education and training delivery infrastructure – exploring ways to
maintain course provision for new entrants and extending training provision to
develop existing workers’ skills.

4. Maintain the stream of new entrants in preparation for the sector coming out of
recession – looking at ways to manage the training of new entrants who are not in
employment, to prepare for an upturn in employers’ labour requirements.

 The full report can be downloaded here