The Federation of Master Builders has revealed its findings from their latest poll of small and medium-sized firms indicate that it is becoming so difficult to hire bricklayers, carpenters and joiners, it has become a major threat to the continued growth and recovery of the construction industry.
This problem doesn't appear to be getting better either as companies are reporting increased workloads into the key Autumn period and little sign of enough skilled workforce becoming available.
It also stated that construction firms saw their employment picking up for the sixth quarter running and the growth was expected to continue over next three months, with rising pay for construction workers mirroring this trend.
However, yet again, there were continued concerns from about half of the 400 or so companies surveyed said they were struggling to recruit bricklayers.
Where have all the bricklayers gone and can new ones be trained for the future? Although bricklayers are not the only trade which is lacking in availability as is shown by the full results detailed in the chart below.
Brian Berry, the trade association’s chief executive, said a skills shortage continued “to loom large over our industry”.
“Almost half of construction SMEs are struggling to recruit adequate numbers of bricklayers, with others finding it increasingly hard to hire carpenters and joiners, site managers and supervisors.
“Looking ahead, our members are reporting that their workloads are likely to rise over the coming three months which means the shortage of skilled workers will only become more acute,” he said.
The FMB is asking the government to clarify its plans announced in the chancellor's July budget to introduce a levy on large employers to fund apprenticeships.
“If the levy on large employers is only used to fund apprenticeship training by large employers, how will apprenticeship training by small firms be dealt with? Given that two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by micro firms, it’s vital that we have a system in place that drives high levels of apprenticeship training through companies of every size,” said Berry.