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Construction wages soar despite skills shortage

schedule 8th June 2016 by Virtual College in Virtual College Last updated on 24th April 2018

construction worker looking at buildings

The wages of construction workers have increased against the uncertain backdrop of the EU referendum and industry skills shortage, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

Research from a survey conducted by REC reveals that bricklayers are able to earn up to £1,000 per week, as building companies compete against each other to keep infrastructure and house-building schemes on target.

Over the past year, 63 per cent of recruitment agencies in the UK reported a growing demand for temporary construction workers, it was revealed. 

Some 69 per cent of agencies stated that a shortage of bricklayers, labourers and other tradesmen represented an immediate risk to their business. 

REC revealed that the recruitment of bricklayers was especially difficult, with the current going rate for a bricklayer as high as £15-25 per hour. 

Construction specialists within the sector believe that should the UK vote to leave the EU, the skills crisis within the industry would only escalate. Some 59 per cent claimed that a Brexit would make recruitment in the sector more difficult, while only five per cent thought it would improve the issue.  

In 2015, the construction industry was the second largest employment sector, accounting for a quarter of job growth.

Kevin Green, REC chief executive said: “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.

“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.”

Virtual College offers a variety of online courses to help construction companies that need to plug a skills gap develop bespoke training tailored to their sector and workforce. For more information, please visit:

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Author: Virtual College

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