Construction-sector recovery at risk from skills shortage, say building firms

A shortage of bricklayers, carpenters and site managers threatens to derail the construction sector’s recovery, an industry group has warned after fresh evidence of recruitment struggles at building companies.

The Federation of Master Builders said its latest poll of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms found employment picked up for the sixth quarter running and the growth was expected to continue over the coming three months, accompanied by rising pay for construction workers. But repeating concerns from other construction-sector reports, about half of the 400 or so companies surveyed said they were struggling to recruit bricklayers.

Brian Berry, the trade association’s chief executive, said a skills shortage continued “to loom large over our industry”.

“Almost half of construction SMEs are struggling to recruit adequate numbers of bricklayers, with others finding it increasingly hard to hire carpenters and joiners, site managers and supervisors.

“Looking ahead, our members are reporting that their workloads are likely to rise over the coming three months which means the shortage of skilled workers will only become more acute,” he said.

The FMB is calling on the government to clarify plans announced in chancellor George Osborne’s budget this month to introduce a levy on large employers to fund apprenticeships.

“If the levy on large employers is only used to fund apprenticeship training by large employers, how will apprenticeship training by small firms be dealt with? Given that two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by micro firms, it’s vital that we have a system in place that drives high levels of apprenticeship training through companies of every size,” said Berry.

Powered by article was written by Katie Allen, for The Guardian on Monday 27th July 2015 19.45 Europe/London

Bricklayers in demand

Skills demand
Almost half of small and medium-sized builders are struggling to recruit adequate numbers of bricklayers, says the FMB. Photograph: FMB © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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