“Skills gulf” could see construction wages double

Grant Prior 3 years ago
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Construction workers could see their wages double as the industry faces a “skills gulf”.

Research from consultant Arcadis shows the industry needs to recruit over 400,000 people each and every year between now and 2021 – equivalent to one worker every 77 seconds – to cope with predicted workloads.

The Arcadis Talent Scale predicts the rise of the “Minted” workforce – the Most in Need Trades Earning Double.

The greatest need is for carpenters and joiners, where demand accounts for nearly one sixth of all national resource requirements.

Plumbers, Electricians, and Bricklayers are also in high demand, particularly in the labour-intensive housebuilding sector.

The report also identifies a need for over 7,400 Civil Engineers, 7,300 Quantity Surveyors and 26,400 Construction Directors.

The figures are independent of the impact of any eventual Brexit deal which would further exacerbate the existing labour shortage.

James Bryce, Arcadis Director of Workforce Planning, said: “What we have is not a skills gap; it is a skills gulf.

“Systemic underinvestment in the nation’s workforce has contributed to a reduction in UK productivity.

“Construction employment is already down 15% on 2008 and, quite simply, if we don’t have the right people to build the homes and infrastructure we need, the UK is going to struggle to maintain it’s competitive position in the global economy.

“However, overcoming a skills shortfall as vast as the one we now face can’t be achieved through education and technology alone.

“Of course, we need to bring more new talent into the industry but, in the short term, construction will also need to look at those currently working in other industries and dramatically improve its efficiency.

“On top of this, as part of any Brexit deal, the government can help by looking to secure the rights of EU workers currently operating in British construction, simplifying the visa system and minimising the tax burden on workers and business.

“If this fails to happen, many of the projects that the British government have earmarked for economic stimulus could prove more difficult and costly to resource.

“In the worst case scenario these projects could fail to be delivered at all, reducing our ability to grow the economy and limiting investment in the industry.”

To download a copy of the full report click here

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