Grenfell fire disaster drives UK construction trade


The UK construction trade appears optimistic about its hiring plans, as urgent repairs to social housing following the Grenfell fire disaster enhances demand for building work

A survey carried out by US recruitment firm Manpower has found that of more than 2,000 UK employers confidence among public sector firms had improved radically in the last three months.

The survey asked British businesses about how they viewed the jobs market and whether they intended to increase the size of their workforce in the coming year.  Those in the UK construction trade reported a net employment outlook of +11% for the final quarter of 2017.

That represents the strongest outlook of any UK sector and a 6% increase on the third quarter.

The Grenfell Tower fire in June spread through cladding on the building which subsequently failed safety tests, claiming at least 80 lives.

Many other public housing projects — predominantly high-rise buildings — have since failed safety tests due to unsafe cladding.

James Hick, managing director for Manpower Group Solutions, said expansion in the UK construction trade was driven by those bids to improve public housing.

Hick said: “Construction hiring often slows in the winter months, but the UK is set to buck the trend this year — our data suggests this could be the strongest fourth quarter for hiring since 2005.

“Some of this work is the urgent testing and repair that is being carried out up and down the country on much of Britain’s public housing stock.

“The state of housing in the country is under the microscope like never before and the need for both building and remedial work have caused demand in the construction industry to shoot up.”

However, there were also signs that the effect of short term factors could conceal the ongoing skills shortage which threatens the employment market in the future.

Hick said: “The tough reality lurking beneath all these positive indicators is that these hiring intentions may not come to fruition because of difficulties attracting and retaining skilled employees.”


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