Wednesday 19 August 2015 10:32 am

UK housing: Skills shortages forcing construction firms to turn down building work

Is a skills shortage fuelling the UK housing market's supply issues?
Research published today suggests that two-thirds (66 per cent) of small and medium construction firms have had to turn down work because they don't have the staff to carry it out, according to the Federation of Master Buildings. 
London has the biggest shortage of bricklayers and carpenters, but there are shortages all around the UK, with the east of England suffering from a short supply of plasterers, while the West Midlands is struggling to find scaffolders. Northern Ireland has the greatest need for general labourers.  
Firms said the main problem was difficulty in finding apprentices, and a lack of apprenticeships has held back potential new entrants to the jobs market.
They believe candidates are bowing to “pressure from parents to stay in full-time education”. 
Tony Passmore, chief executive of the Leeds-based Passmore Group, said: “The lack of experienced multi-skilled workers is a huge concern for my business, as it could affect our future growth plans. 
“We urgently need tradespeople that are trained in more than one area, such as plumbing, tiling and joinery for bathroom installations – but we just aren’t seeing the candidates come through.”
Nic London, who runs Enfield-based eco builders N London Construction, added: “There’s definitely a great opportunity for apprentices right now. I entered the industry as an apprentice myself, and I haven’t looked back. The starting salaries are much higher than many people expect and there is a great capacity for career development. In the past we’ve developed apprentices who have moved on to start their own businesses.”
Hayley Ellis, FMB's director of training and membership services, said: “We’d encourage those receiving their GCSE results tomorrow who feel unsure of what to do next to properly explore their options and consider the building industry – particularly through apprenticeship schemes."