An Ideal Opportunity for Young People Considering a Career in Construction

An Ideal Opportunity for Young People Considering a Career in Construction

02nd July 2019

The skills shortage is an issue that causes consternation throughout the construction industry here in the UK, especially as we are still labouring under a large degree of uncertainty as we face a botched Brexit.  According the to Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) State of Trade Survey 2017, a massive 60% of small to medium construction companies are struggling to hire enough bricklayers, 58% face a challenge when looking to hire carpenters and joiners, whilst 45% cannot find a competent plumber.  Around 40% of these construction firms revealed that the skills gap is at its worst since 2013, with 43% of job vacancies directly due to the skills shortage.

The skills shortage is currently costing British businesses around £2 billion each year as companies spend more time recruiting, often paying recruitment agencies and/or hiring temporary workers.  To add insult to injury, in order to attract workers with the necessary skills, the salaries being offered are well above the market rate, costing another £527 million.  More than half of construction company owners disclosed that they are unable to find workers with the required skills and therefore have to rely on training the workers they hire in order to ensure that they have the skills to carry out the work at hand.  Obviously, the provision of this training is pushing up costs even further.

Many industry pundits place the blame for this skills gap firmly on Brexit for two reasons.  An Open University poll revealed that high employment, combined with the decrease in the value of sterling since the Referendum and the continuing uncertainty on what Brexit will entail for British businesses, means that workers are reluctant to change jobs which reduces the available pool of talent in the construction industry.  

Furthermore, with overseas workers (on whom the UK building industry has been relying for years), are now reluctant to come to work in the UK at present due to the lack of clarity on immigration legislation for the future.  To make things worse, a third of overseas workers here in the UK are thinking about leaving for less chaotic climes, with the most highly skilled more likely to leave.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), the organisation of local authorities in England and Wales which promotes better local government, if current trends are any indication, there will be a shortfall of 4 million highly skilled workers, and 6 million low-skilled workers here in the UK by 2024.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as this problem represents an ideal opportunity for young people and school leavers who want to forge a career in one of the construction industry trades.  For those who are dedicated and ambitious enough to start training, either through a training course or an apprenticeship, they can be pretty sure that they’ll have plenty of work in future that will allow them to earn a decent living. 

This is the perfect time for young people to be considering a career in construction – it’s now up to the construction industry to make sure that it gets the message across to a potential army of future UK construction workers.