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Skills shortage ‘forcing wages up’ for construction workers

Published on 2nd June 2016

The shortage of experienced bricklayers and other skilled trades has significantly pushed up wages for site workers over the past year, a new survey of construction recruitment agencies has revealed.

Research by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) found that 63% of agencies had seen an increase in demand for temporary construction workers in the past 12 months.

This trend was not accompanied by a rise in the number of experienced workers available and the agencies reported difficulties in finding sufficient surveyors, bricklayers, skilled trades, project managers and labourers to fill jobs.

Those with the right skills benefited from the situation though, as 19% of the recruitment businesses questioned said that the average hourly rate they pay bricklayers now exceeds £20 and a further 46% said it was between £15 and £20. The highest rates were most likely to be paid to people working on projects in London.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicated that the higher pay was not limited to bricklayers, as its data showed that wages in the construction sector had climbed by an average of 7.5% year-on-year.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, warned that while the market conditions were good for workers in the short term, they could cause problems for the industry in the longer term.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Green added that the skills shortage could intensify if the UK voted to leave the EU, but insisted that more investment in training would be required whatever the outcome of the 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,” he explained.

Kalcrest Site Services is a specialist construction recruitment agency with a long track record of supplying experienced workers with the most in-demand skills for temporary jobs across the country.

Contact us today to find out how we could help to solve staffing problems on your project and the benefits of using Kalcrest as a preferred supplier.

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