‘Green collar’ construction workers earning £134,000

Aaron Morby 4 weeks ago
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A lack of ‘green collar’ construction workers is seeing wages spiral and could threaten the country’s energy efficiency drive to net zero.

Wage rates over-heating for insulation workers
Wage rates over-heating for insulation workers

According to a new report by cost consultant Turner & Townsend, insulation specialists and solar and heat pump installers in London now typically earn £70 per hour, after wages soared by 22% in the last 12 months.

The cost consultant said this means some in-demand trades could now command annual salaries of over £134,000 in the capital based on a 48-hour working week.

These trades, which are on the front line of the energy transition, are now paid two and a half times more than construction labourers who typically earn £28 per hour in the capital.

Turner & Townsend UK hourly wage cost estimates
City Cost per
m2
2024
inflation (%)
Overall
wages/hour
Green worker
wages/hour
Labourer
wages/hour
London £3,545 2.0 £47 £70 £28
Manchester £2,622 3.5 £41 £52 £30
Bristol £2,493 3.5 £37 £45 £26
Leeds £2,455 3.0 £41 £47 £30
Edinburgh £2,432 3.5 £37 £45 £27
Birmingham £2,394 3.5 £38 £47 £28
Glasgow £2,389 3.5 £37 £45 £27
Newcastle £2,333 3.5 £38 £47 £27
Belfast £2,329 2.0 £39 £45 £22
Regional average £2,555 3.1 £39 £49 £27

T&T warns that all UK regions are suffering from an acute shortage of skilled construction workers which is  driving wage inflation to record levels.

Even outside of London, the average UK wage for these specialists has hit £47 per hour.

All nine regions of the country surveyed reported skills shortages, with most surveyed (78%) saying it is already impacting  programmes.

Labour cost inflation and the impact of skills shortages is not limited to low carbon development.

Overall, average construction wages have increased by 13% since 2023 – rising from £36 per hour to £42 in 2024.

London now ranks as the 10th most expensive construction market globally, rising from 14th in 2023.

This has seen average construction costs in the capital across a broad swathe of 11 building types have risen to £3,503 per m2 compared to 2023 when costs were £3,024 per m2.

Chris Sargent, managing director of UK real estate, at Turner & Townsend, said: “Hundreds of thousands of new trained specialists are required to give the sector the capacity it needs for the green transition.

“High wages may make the role more appealing to many, and attract these much-needed skills.

“But green construction cannot afford to be in a separate tier of costs from traditional work.

“We need to help make net zero achievable and affordable by investing now in building and training the pipeline of skilled workers we need, and by adopting innovative digital tools to improve productivity and outcomes.”

 

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