Age of building: 1 million more construction workers are promptly needed

Construction workers are in high demand and short supply

Construction workers are in high demand and short supply - Credit: Archant

A million extra workers need to join the house building industry if the country is to build new homes at the necessary rate, according to new analysis from specialist recruiter Randstad CPE.

Completed homes VS Home builder jobs

Completed homes VS Home builder jobs - Credit: Archant

By 2020 the UK will need a total of 1.98 million house building workers – to build the necessary 300,000 homes per year.

This means the creation of over a million new construction jobs by the end of the decade.

As of 2015 there are 0.98 million people working in the UK’s house building trades and professions, who are involved in the likely completion of 148,000 new homes this year. This will need to grow to 1.98 million workers in order to reach 300,000 homes per year – which means an additional one million workers by 2020.

Building homes is also becoming more labour-intensive. In 2007, UK house building peaked at 226,000 completed homes per calendar year, while at the time there were over a million (1,149,000) people working in related construction jobs. This implies just more than five (5.07) such workers per completed home – a figure that has since deteriorated towards seven (6.61) workers per completed home in 2014.

On this basis, hitting an output of 300,000 homes per year will require 102 per cent growth in the housebuilding workforce (or 1,003,000 extra jobs) to reach a total UK-wide headcount of 1,983,000. Even with a steady pace of recruitment over five years and starting immediately, this means finding at least 200,000 extra house building workers every single year if the target is to be reached by the end of the current decade.

Owen Goodhead, MD of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering, comments: “If expecting an ambitious output, Britain needs to be ambitious about employment. Despite various speeches being made on this topic, the targets remain seemingly out of reach. We need to think beyond the ‘what’, the ‘where’ and the ‘when’ and instead look into who will be building enough homes.

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“Doubling the rate of house building will mean at least doubling the workforce involved too. The housing crisis is a skills crisis too. That means a practical challenge for workers as much as it is a conceptual issue for politicians. Employers will need to prepare as carefully as planning departments, and we need to lay the foundations of a skilled workforce as much as we need foundations in concrete.

“We are entering a new age of housebuilding – if we aren’t facing a generation of homelessness. This will take a new practical generation of men and women with the right skills and the colossal ambition needed.”