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It appears that the shortage of qualified, skilled labour in the UK is forcing firms to look abroad for construction workers, who are capitalising by demanding double their usual rate of pay.
“£1000 a week brickies from Portugal”
According to a report in The Daily Mail, building firms are hiring bricklayers from Portugal and paying them £1,000 a week because of the UK construction skills shortage.
James Hick, from recruitment group Manpower, told the Daily Mail:
“There is a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople in Britain – bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, mechanical engineers, HGV drivers.
Where they were paying £500 a week at the beginning of the year, the demand for those skills means they are now paying £1,000 a week.
That pressure on skills is huge, particularly in the construction industry in the South East and London.”
Indicative of the real skills shortage
Whilst the recent headlines were sensational, the story did highlight the real skills shortage affecting the construction industry.
This is compounded by the fact that around 400,000 existing construction workers are due to reach retirement age in the next decade and some 40% of house-building jobs were lost during the downturn.
The latest Office for National Statistics figures for the construction industry showed (November 2014):
Apprenticeships being created
The Government says it wants to maintain this momentum and ensure British workers benefit from the new career opportunities available.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said:
“Government-led efforts over the past four years have got Britain building, creating thousands of jobs. In November, ministers agreed with house builders to create tens of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships on sites across the country, to nurture home-grown talent for many years to come.”
Training and up-skilling is part of the solution
The Home Building Skills Report, published in August 2013, found that 50% of all home builders and 80% of housing associations were taking on an apprentice in 2013.
The report further identified the need to address the skills gaps across the home building sector by creating a better link between the workforce and its training needs.
As a result, a new skills portal developed by NHBC, Zero Carbon Hub, CITB and the Home Builders Federation, was launched.
The Home Building Skills website offers advice on all the different job roles, career routes, and learning resource and qualifications information from national training providers. All colleges and training providers offering support to any job role in UK home building are being urged to upload information to the portal for free.
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