What Are the Top 3 Causes of the Skills Shortage in Construction?

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What Are the Top 3 Causes of the Skills Shortage in Construction?

Skills Shortage

Rob Ford Head of Thorn Baker ConstructionAre you a Construction Professional who can’t hire enough skilled Trades & Labour and White Collar staff to ensure your sites are completed on schedule and within budget? You will find this blog useful. 

Rob Ford, Head of Thorn Baker Construction


The skills shortage within construction and infrastructure is a much-discussed subject across the industry. As specialist recruiters, the team and I can definitely lend an outside view as to why there is a shortage of skilled Trades & Labour and White Collar staff.

Over the last month, the team and I have been conducting a survey to get an insight from those at the coalface of the subject – you! We’ve been speaking with Construction, Commercial and Project Managers who are struggling to hire the very best Site Managers, Technical staff or Trades for their sites. With Brexit still being a heavily discussed issue, we expected a lot of answers to focus on this but the results were surprising…

Survey Results: The Top 3 Causes of the Skills Shortage in Construction

What Are the Top 3 Causes of the Skills Shortage in Construction?








Apprenticeships

‘I believe one reason for skills shortages in the UK construction industry is due to the lack of apprenticeships for school leavers. Schools should also encourage pupils to undertake work experience with construction companies to promote an early interest in the numerous trades within the construction industry and the route to site, contract & project management.’

Brendan Alexander, Project Manager 

Like Brendan, many others that we spoke with agreed that apprenticeship availability was a major issue – especially when the Construction industry remains a large contributor to the UK economy.

The ONS recently stated that It generates almost £90 billion annually (6.7% of GDP) and employs in excess of 2.93 million people, the equivalent of about 10% of UK employment.

However, only 1% of employers have looked to take on an apprentice or inexperienced staff member for training to ease the skills shortfall. The government has invested over £1 billion into training and apprenticeship schemes; however, the schemes alone do not guarantee employment. Earlier this year we wrote a blog about an apprenticeship scheme that was being developed specifically for people seeking a career in health & safety – you can read it here.

Poor Image

‘For whatever reason, I believe some people tend to look down at tradesman and choose the university route as they believe taking an apprenticeship is a step-down. I believe in a not so distant future there will be a massive shortage unless this is bottomed out.’

Ben Hebden, Junior Contracts Manager 

The current poor image of the Construction Industry has a detrimental impact on construction businesses’ ability to recruit and retain people with the right type of skills. 

The CITB Report Changing Perceptions: The Growing Appeal of a Career in Construction has shown that the overall appeal of the construction industry as a career option for young people is low, scoring 4.2 out of 10 among 14 to 19-year-olds. It is perceived to be about 'being outdoors and getting dirty' and most suited to 'young people who do not get into college or university'.

Wage Related

This response whilst being our third most popular opinion was split across the North, Midlands and the South.

Skills Shortage  the North, Midlands and the South.

So, what is the average salary for Construction jobs?

The average salary for Construction jobs according to Total Jobs is £42,500. How much Construction jobs pay varies across UK locations and industries – when you break down their cross-section (sample size of 14, 456 people) the breakdown of the average is:

  • The North: £57,059
  • The Midlands: £47,500
  • The South: £59,122

When you take into account the difference in average living costs across the country it’s easy to see why the Midlands and the South are more vocal about wage issues in these areas.

It’s been a valuable exercise to conduct this survey to not only get our clients viewpoints but also for us to sit back, take stock and reassess how we source our candidates. Also, it raises the point of how we might be able to help the construction industry to fill the ever-growing skills gap that Construction Professionals now face on a daily basis.

Supplying both white and blue-collar workers across the UK I would like to think we have our finger on the pulse when it comes to staffing availability. If you’d like to discuss the results of our survey, maybe you have a different point of view – contact the team today.