Roofing and cladding shortages major area of concern, reports NFRC

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Roofing and cladding skills shortages are a ‘ticking time bomb’, with reports showing that 77% of contractors reported labour shortages in Q3 2021, warns the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC)

According to the NFRC/Glenigan survey, slaters and tilers were the roles in the most demand, reflecting the growing new-build housing market. The survey also reports that flat roofing contractors were also difficult to find.

Furthermore, just under one in ten NFRC members reported difficulties recruiting cladders, which could have an impact on the government’s £5bn cladding remediation scheme.

As a result of skills shortages, roofing contractors have seen the cost of labour increase as a result, with roofing companies reporting an increase of 57% compared to last year. Alongside this, 92 per cent of roofers have seen material prices rise.

Quarterly findings:

  • A net balance of 40 per cent of roofing contractors reported growing workloads, down from 54% in the previous quarter.
  • 28% of members reported higher enquiries.
  • Employment levels grew, with 12 per cent of contractors reporting a growing headcount.
  • The North of England and Scotland saw the highest levels of growth, with Wales being the only part of the UK that saw workloads and enquiries fall on the previous quarter.
  • 77% of roofing firms reported a deterioration of material availability over the quarter, with 31% reporting shortages of ‘all materials’.
  • 92% of roofing contractors reported a rise in material prices.
  • 70% of roofers increased their tender prices over the period.
  • Ahead of COP26, just under half of roofing contractors were developing or considering developing a net zero strategy.

‘Skill shortages a big concern for roofing contractors’

Commenting on the research, NFRC’s head of policy, Philip Campbell, said: “The headlines recently have been focused, rightly, on HGV driver shortages, but the next ticking skills time bomb is construction skill shortages, particularly in roofing.

“We have seen skill shortages become a big concern for roofing contractors throughout this year, and our most recent survey found that three-quarters of our members are now having recruitment difficulties on all sorts of roles from roof slaters and tilers to cladders.

“The chancellor this week confirmed multi-billion-pound funding commitments for housing, levelling up, and cladding remediation, but the government may fall short on these targets if the construction skills aren’t there to deliver.

“We saw what happened with the Green Homes Grant when government ambition and supply chain capacity aren’t aligned.

“More generally, whilst it was encouraging to see the roofing and cladding industry grow again this quarter, we saw the rate of growth slow, particularly in the domestic, repair, maintenance, and improvement sector, which could be the result of ongoing material and skill shortages. Roofers continue to remain optimistic for the future, however.”

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