Two-thirds of small to medium sized businesses in the sector can’t find construction workers as skills shortages hit a ‘record high’, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Construction firms are struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters according to the report on 24housing and following the Key results from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey, which is the only quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector.
The report shows that 68% of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers and 63% are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners – the highest figures since records began in 2008.
A shortage of plumbers, electricians, plasterers and floorers were also recorded as reaching a record high. However, this also coincides with the sector predicting a fall in expected workloads and an increase in the cost of materials over the next 6 months.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said:
“Skills shortages are sky rocketing and it begs the question: who will build the new homes and infrastructure projects the government is crying out for?
“The government has set itself an ambitious target to build 300,000 homes every year in England alone. More than two-thirds of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers which is one of the key trades in the building industry. This has increased by nearly 10% in just three months which points to a rapid worsening of an already dire situation.
“What’s more, nearly as many are facing difficulties hiring carpenters and joiners. These figures are the highest we’ve noted since records began a decade ago. As a result, the wages for these increasingly scarce skilled tradespeople continue to rise sharply; that’s a simple consequence of supply and demand.”
Mr Berry said that Brexit was also impacting on the sector and while small construction firms continue to face significant material price increases, their margins are likely to be squeezed, suggesting a brake on growth:
“Without skilled labour from the EU, the skills shortages we face would be considerably worse, and it is not in anyone’s best interest to pull the rug out from under the sector by introducing an inflexible and unresponsive immigration system.”
The current skills shortages among construction SMEs may provide a silver lining following the collapse of Carillion whose former employees could have a ready supply of alternative employers.
Read the full story at 24housing