Skills Shortages are Pushing up Construction Wages

Construction industry wages rose by 6% in 2015 as skills shortages continued to get worse.

The latest quarterly construction market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), concluded that wages in the construction industry surged by 6% in 2015 (far above the national average) due to skills shortages.

Not only are wages affected but, skills shortages are also jeopardising government’s plans for housing and infrastructure programmes, the survey suggests. FDS has the details below.

Sharp wage Rise for construction workers

According to the UK construction market survey for Q4 2015 – 61% of construction professionals have reported sharp wage rises. This, of course, is great news for employees as average construction earnings rose more than 6% in the year to October 2015.

How does this compare to the UK average?

The average UK wage rise over the same period was just below 2%.

The biggest shortages were reported in the labour skillset with 66% of respondents claiming this to be the most significant barrier to growth in the last quarter of 2015. This includes both bricklayers and quantity surveyors who are both reported to be in short supply. 62% and 60% of those surveyed had difficulty finding these workers.

construction worker wages

Worst labour shortage for a number of years

Director of Fire Design Solutions, Samantha Riley said:

The UK construction industry is currently experiencing its worst labour shortage for a number of years. We are also seeing this reflected in specialist areas such as fire engineering. Whilst this is resulting in more attractive wages, it is also causing delays to projects and pushing up overall build costs. In order to sustain growth within the sector it is critical that the skills crisis is addressed with a focus on training and encouraging both graduates and school leavers towards the manycareer opportunities available within the construction industry, including the specialist roles.’

It’s evident that this skills shortage is continuing to put pressure on project delivery times across the majority of construction industries, which could be detrimental to the UK economy.

Is this the government or employers responsibility?

The government has issued a strong push towards apprenticeships in the last 5 years but is this having a big enough effect? Many are of the opinion that the government must deliver a new skills strategy so industry unions and educators are able to work cohesively to deliver real solutions.

Ministers should take a holistic approach and bridge the gap between education, future careers and employee skills, but is it the job of employers to take the lead here by providing more vocational pathways to work and actively engaging with our country’s schools and colleges?

construction worker earningsThe combined efforts of the government and employers will have two fold effect. Not only will we see an increase in apprentices in skilled labour in the coming years, we will see employers making the construction sector much more appealing to attract a higher number of younger people entering the field.

On a positive note, this news bodes well for school leavers and graduates recruits in the coming years as the current wages offer great incentive to join the industry.

References: Samantha Riley Director at The FDS Group, leaders in smoke ventilation and fire engineering solutions. Find out more here.

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