Offsite construction firms will only be able to take advantage of emerging growth opportunities if they collaborate and effectively tackle skills gaps, a new report suggests.

A range of employers have recently collaborated with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) on five skills projects, to test new approaches to training and cooperation.

Apprenticeships are among the schemes which building firms have already introduced in order to address talent shortages.

But research stemming from the projects has now indicated that offsite businesses can also enhance the skills of their staff members by working more closely together. It additionally recommends collaborating more effectively with professional bodies and universities.

Over the duration of the five projects, the report said the need to boost people’s skills brought competing businesses together.

It said offsite construction firms need to quickly recognise skills shortages, to avoid being left behind.

And it concluded that businesses and education providers also need to team up, to make sure industry professionals are keeping pace with new technologies.

Commenting on the skills projects, UKCES assistant director Carol Stanfield said the findings may also apply to sectors beyond offsite construction.

She said: “Much of the learning that we gathered from these projects, about collaboration and sharing best practice, is applicable to any sector facing similar technological change - something that is currently affecting almost the entire economy.”

The five projects covered areas such as management skills and operational skills. Skanska, the Steel Construction Institute, Edinburgh Napier University and Buildoffsite were among the organisations involved in the process.

Following his firm’s project, Rob Francis, director of innovation and business improvement at Skanska, emphasised the value of teamwork.

He said: “This challenge allowed us to look at something in a completely different way, and to take it forward together.”

Through the project which Skanska was involved with, an employer-led offsite management school was set up. This encompassed around 200 member companies and close to 300 individual learners.