REC survey highlights shortage of construction workers

Vania Goncalves 25 May 2016 EUROPE BUSINESS

A survey of UK construction recruitment firms has highlighted the shortage of construction workers and resultant high wages, with some bricklayers taking home £1,000 a week.


The survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has concluded that 69% of the construction recruitment agencies surveyed believe that the shortage of bricklayers, labourers and other tradesmen constitutes the first or second most significant risk to their businesses.

Finding bricklayers has been considered exceptionally difficult by 43% of the agencies, a trend that has resulted in a rise of their wages to £15-25 an hour in London.

Furthermore, 59% of recruiters said that a vote to leave the EU would aggravate the issue, while 5% believe the situation would improve.

REC’s chief executive Kevin Green said: “If you work in construction you can expect to be earning £34 a week more than last year, and our data indicates that some employers are increasing pay faster as the competition for skilled workers intensifies.

“Whilst this is great news for builders and tradesmen, there are hard questions that need to be asked about the sustainability of this trend. The UK is close to full employment and building firms are already struggling to find the people needed for major infrastructure projects. If Britain leaves the EU there’s no doubt that recruitment for some construction roles will become even more of a challenge.  

“Whatever the outcome of the EU referendum we need to address deep-seated skills shortages. That means more apprenticeships, greater investment in skills development by employers, better careers guidance in schools, and more work experience opportunities so that young people are shown the potential benefits of a career in construction.”

These findings are followed by the latest employment data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that shows a 7.5% year-on-year increase in wages in the construction sector, considered the second biggest job creator last year.

* REC is the professional body for recruitment and aims to make businesses more successful by helping them secure the people they need. The construction recruitment firms survey focused in member agencies that supply staff to the construction sector.

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