16th September 2021
By Sophie Mills
It’s been said that Britain is facing its worst labour shortage since 1997 – with a combination of factors including Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, skills gaps and changing priorities and career goals of young people being attributed.
The construction industry in particular is having a tough time as a result – the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found there were 38,000 job vacancies in the industry between May and July this year.
At Inscape, many of our clients and the people we form partnerships with work within the construction industry – from architects and quantity surveyors, to builders and project managers.
It’s well known that the UK construction worker population is ageing, with the sector struggling to appeal to the next generation. EU migrant workers have returned to their home nations following Brexit and the government’s immigration rules are making things more difficult to work in the UK.
In addition, many workers are re-thinking their career choices following long periods of furlough due to the pandemic. However, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the industry is still showing strong growth – but in order to sustain this, around 43,000 people will need to be recruited into the sector every year.
The shortage may well be affecting your business or sector – it might be that this is your most significant barrier to growth – impacting your ability to complete contracted works on time, the knock-on effect being contract disputes and delayed payments, resulting in strained relationships with customers. At the same time, salaries in the construction sector have risen more than any other sector since the start of the pandemic, with some trades seeing increases of almost 30 per cent – understandably affecting bottom lines.
How do we tackle the issue? Working to close skills gaps by increasing training provision, enticing more young people into the construction industry by promoting the benefits and varied career opportunities available, and emphasising the importance of EU workers to the UK jobs market – would all be a start. It’s certainly a huge issue that can’t be solved overnight, but things need to change and can if the industry pulls together.