The rapid growth in the construction sector has caught the industry on the back foot, with skills shortages worsening across the country. 59% of respondents to the latest RICS UK Construction Market Survey stated that they had been unable to find sufficient numbers of bricklayers for their work. Similar figures were reported for quantity surveyors (54%) and managerial workers (51%). Some contractors told Construction Enquirer that it seemed estimators were ‘almost extinct,’ and that pay was increasing rapidly to try to find the right staff.
The news comes as a separate survey found that 58% of construction workers under 30 were unsatisfied with their pay, and over a third plan to leave their current job within six months. Salary was ranked as the number one priority for young construction workers in the survey of 2,000, ahead of career prospects, job security and recognition.
The combination of increasing wage demands and skills shortages represents a huge challenge for construction companies. While the sector has only just recovered from the effects of the recession, the availability of workers is lagging behind.
RICS Director of Built Environment explains the reasons for the shortages: ‘the upsurge in housing demand is creating pressure across an industry which failed to invest in attracting new talent or in the training of existing employees at the height of the economic downturn.’
While in time the skills shortages should resolve themselves as new talent enters the industry, at present employers will have to cope with higher staff costs. Employers will have to pull out the stops to keep their employees on board.
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