Brexit sparks slump in construction jobs over summer

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construction jobs, Brexit,
© Michael Spring

According to Randstad, the number of new construction jobs halved this summer due to ‘parliamentary chaos and indecision’ caused by Brexit uncertainty

The three summer months of June, July, and August usually see 30% of all permanent recruitment jobs filled in the construction sector (2018: 29%). However, this year, the summer made up just 16% of the previous 12 months’ recruitment placements, as construction projects are put on hold or work slowed.

Managing director of Randstad Construction Property & Engineering, Owen Goodhead, said: “In construction, about 30% of all annual placements are made over the three summer months. But this year, summer didn’t happen. It was dismal. The new jobs market has been devastated.

“Parliamentary chaos and indecision within the Palace of Westminster has pulled the rug from under the feet of the construction industry. The entire course of the construction industry is now being set by Brexit as clients cut budgets and property developers delay decision-making.

“MPs need to agree [on] a Brexit plan between them OR let us leave without a deal OR move a vote of no confidence OR agree to an election. Until one of those things happen, the British labour market is going to keep running out of steam.”

Construction job stats

Although the number of vacancies fell, pay in construction is still holding up. Average pay rose to £51,900 in the 12 months to 1st September 2019, from £49,800 last year – an increase of 4%.

In 2018, 31% of site manager hires were made in the three summer months. This year, it was 15%. Hardest hit were senior site managers roles where 12% of hires were made in the summer months – rather than 40% the year before.

At the other end of the spectrum, in 2018, 37% of assistant site manager hires were made in the three summer months. This year, it was just 9%.

Just 15% of the project management placements were made this summer compared to 24% last summer.

The slowdown caused by Brexit has affected many construction jobs, including quantity surveyors. In 2018, 26% of hires were made in the three summer months. This year, it was 23%.

Senior quantity surveyors were hit hardest with only 8% of hires made over the summer compared with 36% the previous year.

Other construction jobs, such as section and site engineers, and labourers are also seeing the number of vacancies fall.  But again, site engineers have at least seen their pay rise from £40,800 to £44,800 with labourers also seeing similar increases.

Owen Goodhead, added: “If the work looks like it’s drying up, EU workers who were undecided about staying or leaving until now may be more likely to up sticks and head home.

“While that will help prop up pay, it will also make it harder, in a post Brexit environment, to ramp construction jobs back up again.”

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