What are the construction jobs with the highest skill shortages in the UK?

Construction Skills Shortages UK

The construction industry is plagued by an endemic shortage of skills, due to an ageing workforce, a profession that finds it difficult to attract young employees, and the volatility of the industry.

This article explores what skills are in highest demand in the construction industry.

What are your strategies to address these shortages? Please leave me a comment to let me know!

Bricklayers are incredibly hard to recruit in the UK. 2/3 of construction companies are struggling to hire bricklayers.

1. Bricklayers

64% construction companies are reporting difficulties hiring bricklayers. With a shortage of ~15,000 bricklayers to support the ambitious plans to build 300,000 new homes in England alone every year, bricklayers are a skilled trade in very high demand.

Furthermore, 90% of bricklayers are self-employed, which makes it even harder for companies to recruit on a permanent basis.

How much should I pay a bricklayer?

This discrepancy between supply and demand is pushing salaries to very high levels:

  • Expect to pay around £42k, up to £90k in London to hire a bricklayer on a permanent basis.
  • For temporary bricklayers, including agencies’ fees, agencies would charge between £24 per hour, up to £250 per day for an 8-hour shift.

How to recruit bricklayers?

  • Consider using a recruitment agency to hire bricklayers on a contract-basis which gives you flexibility.
  • Bring new talent on an apprenticeship: The bricklayer apprenticeship lasts 2 year. Only 359 started a bricklaying apprenticeship since 2015!

60% construction companies struggle to hire carpenters and joiners

2. Carpenters and joiners

60% of construction companies are finding it hard to recruit carpenters and joiners in the UK, which is also driving annual salaries to the roof.

What is the difference between a carpenter and a joiner?

While they’re both involved in woodwork, a joiner generally works in a workshop, using heavy machinery, to create and assemble door and window frames or furniture.

A carpenter typically works on a construction site, and is responsible for creating and assembling timber frames, or building stud walls. They use hand-held machines, and are mobile, often moving from one construction site to the other.

How much should I pay a carpenter or joiner?

It always depends on the location and seniority of the person you need to hire, but on average:

  • To hire a permanent carpenter or joiner, expect to pay a salary of around £41k annually.
  • Recruited via an agency, temporary carpenters are typically paid between £16 and £18 per hour. Including agency fees’, expect to pay between £20 and £25 per hour for a good carpenter or joiner.

How to recruit carpenters and joiners?

  • Bring new talent on an apprenticeship: A Level 2 Carpentry and Joinery apprenticeship takes 2 years. Apprenticeships in Carpentry and Joinery are quite popular – just under 1,400 people started an apprenticeship in woodwork since 2015 – why not give it a go?
  • Using a temporary recruitment agency specialised in Construction (Trades and Labour) can be a useful way to avoid rejecting contracts due to staff shortages.
It's very hard to recruit general labourers in the UK, particularly in London, where 28% of the construction workforce comes from the EU.

3. General labourers

General labourers is another profession with severe shortages, which may become even more acute due to the uncertainties surrounding Brexit. As an example, in London, 28% of the construction workforce comes from the EU. The deterioration of the sterling to euro exchange rate linked to economic uncertainties might present a real challenge, as the UK would become a less attractive destination for construction workers from Continental Europe.

According to the latest CIOB-cross industry report in January 2019, general labourers is the top occupation expected to experience severe hiring difficulties post-Brexit.

The same report is recommending to add general labourers to the list of occupations in Severe Shortages from the Migration Advisory Committee.

How much should I pay for a general labourer?

To hire an unskilled labourer, expect to pay:

  • General labourers are paid around £20k on a permanent basis.
  • Temporary CSCS Labourers are paid between £10 and £12 per hour in London. Adding agencies’ fees, expect to pay around £14 per hour for a labourer with a CSCS card.

How to recruit labourers?

  • As no specific qualification is required to hire temporary labourers, a number of labourers learn their trade on-site. They would need a CSCS card to work on a construction site, to ensure that they have a solid understanding of health and safety.
  • Using a temporary recruitment agency specialised in Trades and Labour can also be an option, especially at short notice.
50% of UK construction companies are struggling to recruit site managers.

4. Site managers

Site managers are also very hard to come by. According to the FMB State of Trade Survey, half of the UK construction companies are struggling to hire their site managers at the beginning of 2019.

How much should I pay for a site manager?

  • Site managers are paid on average £51k when hired permanently.
  • Temporary site managers are paid around £250 to £300 per day. Including agencies’ fees and statutory payments, expect to pay around £350 to £415 per day to hire a temporary site manager.

How to recruit site managers?

  • Site managers are generally former site supervisors who have been promoted to this position and have completed their SSMTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme).
  • You can also use a temp recruitment agency specialised in White Collar roles in Construction to find site managers on a temporary basis.
Quantity surveyors are incredibly hard to recruit, not only in the UK but worldwide.

5. Quantity surveyors

The surveying profession has been struggling to recruit for decades. This is not an issue limited to the UK – the whole profession is experiencing acute shortages of staff, worldwide.

How much should I pay for a site manager?

  • Due to the shortages in the industry, quantity surveyors are expecting to be paid around £56k annually.
  • Recruiting a temporary quantity surveyor via a recruitment agency would cost you around £275 – £300 per day for a junior QS, up to £450 for a more experienced QS.

How to recruit quantity surveyors?

  • Why not consider recruiting a quantity surveyor as an apprentice? It only takes 2 years to complete a Surveying Technician Apprenticeship!
  • Alternatively, even though it’s more expensive, using a temporary recruitment agency can help you find candidates at short notice.

How do you deal with skill shortages in the construction industry? How do you find staff? Please leave us a comment to let us know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *