UK Construction Media

One new construction worker needed every 77 seconds

News   •   Feb 23, 2017 15:47 GMT

Arcadis report reveals 400,000 new employees are needed per year to tackle skills shortage and housing crisis.

A new report by consultancy first Arcadis, has said that in order to solve the housing crisis, the British construction sector needs to bring in 400,000 new employees per year, the equivalent of 77 new construction workers every second.

The report, subtitled “The real extent of Britain’s construction labour crisis”, highlights that the problems with the industry are “planning restrictions; the infrastructure sector citing indecision as stalling progress; and Brexit triggering a deluge of talk about material costs and currency effects.”

The report states that previous to Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, the number of people in the UK properly equipped to deliver the nations plans to modernise the housing industry and solve the crisis, was far below the necessary levels.

James Bryce, Director of workforce planning at Arcadis, said: “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 15% 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.”

Carpenters and joiners are most needed, followed by plumbers, electricians, and bricklayers.

The government’s “Fixing Britain’s Broken Housing Market” White Paper said: “The housing shortage isn’t a looming crisis, a distant threat that will become a problem if we fail to act. We’re already living in it. Our population could stop growing and net migration could fall to zero, but people would still be living in overcrowded, unaffordable accommodation. Infrastructure would still be overstretched. This problem is not going to go away by itself.”

The failure is partly because the construction industry is yet to recover from the 2008 financial crash and a lack of skilled tradesmen in the UK, causing a drastic rise in house prices, especially in London and the south east.

In London, it now takes an average of nearly 26 years for a couple living there with one child to save for a home deposit. Although house prices have been rising steadily across the UK for decades, the dramatic increased in the capital means that now the average first-time home costs £402,692, according to research by Halifax Bank.

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