A combination of Brexit fears and a recruitment crisis in the construction industry has pushed wages up - so much so that bricklayers can now earn up to £1,000 a week.
New research out today from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) shows that more than six in ten recruitment agencies (63 per cent) say that demand for temporary construction workers has increased over the last year, and 69 per cent say that the shortage of bricklayers, labourers and other tradesmen is now the first or second most significant risk to their business.
Bricklayers are enjoying the benefits of a skills shortage, with 43 per cent of firms saying that finding bricklayers is particularly difficult. This is especially true for London-based firms with the result that brickies can now earn as much as £25 per hour in the capital.
And recruiters have predicted that a vote to leave the EU would make the problem worse - 59 per cent say a Brexit would make it harder to find suitable workers and only five per cent think it would improve the situation.
“If you work in construction you can expect to be earning £34 a week more than last year, and our data indicates that some employers are increasing pay faster as the competition for skilled workers intensifies," said REC chief executive Kevin Green.
“Whilst this is great news for builders and tradesmen, there are hard questions that need to be asked about the sustainability of this trend. The UK is close to full employment and building firms are already struggling to find the people needed for major infrastructure projects. If Britain leaves the EU there’s no doubt that recruitment for some construction roles will become even more of a challenge.
"Whatever the outcome of the EU referendum we need to address deep-seated skills shortages. That means more apprenticeships, greater investment in skills development by employers, better careers guidance in schools, and more work experience opportunities so that young people are shown the potential benefits of a career in construction.”