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Construction Wages Skyrocket Despite Recruitment Problems and Brexit Worries

The recent survey of construction recruiters by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation indicates that bricklayers are receiving up to £1,000 a week at a time when firms are competing for the workers needed to keep the country’s housebuilding and infrastructure projects on track.

63 per cent of recruitment agencies say that the demand for temporary construction workers has gone up in the past year. 69 per cent said that the skills shortage is one of the top risks to their business.

Four out of ten firms indicated that recruiting bricklayers was especially challenging. Recruiters supplying London clients with workers reported wage increases, with bricklayers at sites in the capital earning between £15-25 an hour.

Construction recruiters are predicting that the candidate shortage would be exacerbated by a vote to leave the EU. 59 per cent warn that a Brexit would make it harder to fill vacancies while only five per cent anticipate an improvement.

These revelations follow the most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) employment data, which shows a wage increase of 7.5 per cent (excluding bonuses) in the construction sector. The data also shows that last December there were 2,238,000 construction jobs, accounting for over six per cent of all available jobs. The construction sector accounted for 25 per cent of all job growth last year, making it the second biggest job creator.

Kevin Green, REC Chief Executive Kevin Green says that anyone working in a construction field can look forward to earning £34 a week more than in 2015. Some data suggests that employers are raising the pay rate more quickly as competition for skilled workers gets more intense.

Specialists in Construction Insurance

Mr Green points out that this is welcome news for tradesmen and builders, but the sustainability of the trend needs to be questioned. The country is nearing full employment and building firms are already having a hard time finding the skilled workers needed for important infrastructure projects. If Britain does leave the EU finding suitable candidates for certain construction jobs will become even more difficult.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, he says, the skills shortages must be addressed. This means creating more apprenticeships, improved careers guidance in UK schools, more employer investment in skills development, and more chances for work experience so that young people can appreciate the potential benefits of a construction career.


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