UK needs 1 million more construction workers

Mortgage Introducer

October 30, 2015

Currently the UK has 0.98 million people working in the UK housebuilding trades and professions, who are involved in the likely completion of 148,000 new homes this year.

Last year research conducted by Policy Exchange concluded that the UK would need to build the 300,000 homes per year until 2020 to keep house prices in check.

Jobs that need a plethora of extra workers include labourers (112,000), carpenters (100,000), plumbers (89,000) and project managers (61,000).

Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering, said: “If expecting an ambitious output, Britain needs to be ambitious about employment. Despite various speeches being made on this topic, the targets remain seemingly out of reach. We need to think beyond the ‘what’, the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ and instead look into who will be building enough homes.

“Doubling the rate of house building will mean at least doubling the workforce involved too. The housing crisis is a skills crisis too. That means a practical challenge for workers as much as it is a conceptual issue for politicians. Employers will need to prepare as carefully as planning departments, and we need to lay the foundations of a skilled workforce as much as we need foundations in concrete.

“We are entering a new age of housebuilding – if we aren’t facing a generation of homelessness. This will take a new practical generation of men and women with the right skills and the colossal ambition needed.”

Not only does the UK need to employ more construction workers, the current stock are aging, as one in 10 (10%) are over 60 years old.

A further 9% of existing workers are currently aged between 56 and 60, and will therefore join the ranks of the 60 plus brigade by 2020.

Goodhead added: “Productivity, productivity, productivity – as the Chancellor emphasises with almost every speech. The more we can produce per worker the better, and this could mitigate some of the recruitment challenges when it comes to building enough homes, and a more prosperous economy overall.

“Action is needed too, not just rhetoric. While productivity has become a political buzzword, the reality on the ground is one of running to keep up with a quickening skills shortage and an ageing workforce.

“Practical training and development need to be embedded in the education system. School pupils and school leavers need to know they can earn more than £40,000 as a bricklayer and upwards of £60,000 in a project manager job – then young people need the means to get there. That means a real revolution in how we provide courses, and apprenticeships in far larger numbers.”

Sign up to our daily email