Skills shortage holds up housebuilding


A new survey has warned a major shortage of skilled workers in the construction sector could put a hold on projects…

A shortage of skilled workers is set to hold up new homes and infrastructure projects, according to a new survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The downturn saw a vast number of skilled workers leave the industry, said RICS. A failure to attract new trainees and recruits as the sector started to pick back up—as well as replacing those leaving to retire—has left a severe shortage in construction.

The shortage has been further compounded by an increase in wages in the year to October of almost six per cent. This was three times the average wage increase for UK workers. In fact, 66 per cent of industry professionals warned in the latest construction market survey that labour shortages were the main barrier to growth. The RICS survey found six in 10 respondents were having difficulty recruiting skilled workers such as bricklayers and quantity surveyors.

With this in mind it is easy to see why government plans to get Britain building do not seem to be going according to plan. New build registrations still remain short of the target set by the government to deliver 250,000 new homes a year.

RICS’ chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “While workloads are still growing at a relatively healthy pace, labour shortages in the construction sector are causing delays at different stages in the development process and leading to significant problems with project planning.

“More than 60 per cent of our survey respondents said that these resulting planning delays were an impediment to growth.

“That said, industry wages are becoming increasingly attractive, and I would hope that over time this will encourage skilled workers to return to the sector, as well as drawing school leavers and graduates towards construction-industry careers.”


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