400,000 workers needed to meet housing supply demand
In order to meet demand, the UK construction industry needs to hire over 400,000 workers each year for the next five years.
The findings from construction consultancy Arcadis indicated that to achieve this, a new construction worker needs to be recruited every 77 seconds until 2021.
As has been widely reported, the housing supply is failing to meet demand, meaning the workforce is in need of a boost. Similarly, the recruits who are leaving are not being replaced quickly enough.
If the number of homes built annually is increased to 270,000 – a figure beyond the Government’s target of 200,000 – Arcadis calculate that over 370,000 new recruits will be needed.
Avoiding the cost of building shooting up was another reason the consultancy’s report stressed the need to employ more workers. Demand is highest for carpenters and joiners, whilst the need for plumbers, electricians and bricklayers is just behind.
The calculation by Arcadis does not, however, account for the effect of lower immigration following the departure from the European Union. The report indicated that if a points system is implemented – as it is the current procedure for non-EU migrants – the number of people from the EU joining the UK construction industry will fall by 215,000 by 2020. Currently, an eighth of UK construction workers are foreign; in London, this proportion grows to 23%.
Commenting on the figures from the report was James Bryce. The director of workforce planning at Arcadis highlighted the need to improve the quality of the workforce in order to maintain the UK’s place in the economy on a global scale.
“What we have is not a skills gap; it is a skills gulf. Systemic under-investment in the nation’s workforce has contributed to a reduction in UK productivity.
“Construction employment is already down 15pc on 2008 and, quite simply, if we don’t have the right people to build the homes and infrastructure we need, the UK is going to struggle to maintain its competitive position in the global economy.”