Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s favorite motto, “build back better,” has become an inside joke in the construction industry due to the widespread shortage of experienced tradesmen across the United Kingdom.
As a result of the shortage of available workers, construction projects are slowing down, and wages are rising, while the price of building supplies is skyrocketing due to the widespread disruption of global supply chains.
Experts say that without easing migrant visas and putting in a major local training effort, the government’s goal of building 300,000 homes annually is unlikely to be met.
Skilled Labour Shortage Across UK: A Rising Crisis
Labour and supply constraints, as well as the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, are all problems the construction industry in the UK is facing, according to the latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) report, which they issued on January 7th.
With prices continuing to climb, the construction industry in the UK is facing a severe shortage of available labour. Employees are on the move in search of better compensation, which has a multiplicative effect on business.
New research by Search Consultancy on skilled labour shortage indicated that a lack of competent personnel burdens 83% of construction companies.
In addition, it stated that the average lead time to acquire a suitable applicant is just under four months and that enterprises in the industry are 22% understaffed on average.
The impact on construction sector firms and the reasons for the skills gap were investigated by Search Consultancy.
The lack of competent applicants is the primary and most straightforward contributing issue, according to 36% of respondents. Another quarter of business leaders blames Brexit for their struggle to keep talented workers on staff.
Larger construction firms have done better since they have more leverage due to their size. But specialists in the field warn that small and medium-sized developers have faced even greater obstacles.
Has the labour shortage raised wages?
According to data from the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, wages have increased by almost 6% due to a lack of experienced tradespeople, including groundworkers, plasterers, carpenters, bricklayers, and plant operators in the aftermath of Brexit and compounded by the pandemic.
Consultant Rebecca Dacre of Mazars stated, “Building contractors are being attacked from all sides. A combination of factors, including disruptions in the supply chain, rising prices, and a shrinking labour force, are increasing the financial strain on them. A lot of people are getting pushed over the edge because of this.
An average of 266 construction enterprises each month collapsed in the three months to October 2021, according to the latest Insolvency Service data, the highest number since the pandemic and a 29% increase over the preceding period. Certain choices are being delayed due to labour and material constraints, but overall confidence is high, and construction will continue for most in early 2023.
The issue in the supply chain appears to be thawing. Companies have reported slight improvements in supply availability, and material price hikes may have crested.
As a result of being on or planning to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage, most homebuyers and owners appear unfazed by the recent 0.15% hike in the Bank of England base rate.
Is there a way to fix the current skilled labour shortage?
One way we can solve it is by cooperating with regional construction firms in providing each other with skilled labour. Having skilled and referred labour can help everyone in these trying times.
Steen Building Services will raise the issue in front of the National media and the Government; to push the issue of the lack of tradesmen. I hope these efforts bring fruit and we can see positive change next year.