Salaries rise as skills shortage deepens

Published:  26 April, 2016

Salaries for small building firms are soaring as a result of the growing skills shortage, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

In the FMB's State of Trade Survey for Quarter 1 of 2016, more than half of the small construction firms questioned said they believe salaries will increase over the coming six months. Bricklayers are in particular demand, with 55% of respondents said they are already having difficulties in hiring the trade.

Bricklayers are reportedly commanding wages of £60,000 per year in London, and around £45,000 per year in the north of England.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: "It’s clear that the skills squeeze is starting to push up costs for construction SMEs. A whopping 55% of small building firms are currently reporting difficulties hiring bricklayers, which makes these tradespeople the most in-demand of all construction workers. This particular skills shortage is of course linked to the steady growth in private house building.”

With consistent growth being reported during the first three months of the year, and despite some evidence that the coming EU referendum is causing some uncertainty, more than two-thirds of firms expect their workloads to increase in the coming three months.

"These results are heartening but skills shortages, and the knock-on effect on wages and salaries, remains a major cause for concern," continued Mr Berry. "We need tens of thousands of new and returning construction workers to pick up the slack, or this growth among construction SMEs could so easily unravel. The government is hoping to address the skills shortages through the new Apprenticeship Levy, which is due to come into force in exactly one year.

"However, I have spoken to many small construction bosses who have major concerns about the impact that the new funding arrangements, which will come into effect alongside the levy, will have on their ability to hire an apprentice. The government must work closely with the construction industry to ensure its new system is as easy to use as possible, or else we could see apprenticeship training by small firms nose dive at exactly the wrong time.”

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