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  FMB issue warning over skills shortages

FMB issue warning over skills shortages

29 August 2015 Email this article

Two thirds of small construction businesses have had to turn work down because of skills shortages, according to new data from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

It reports that some 66% of smaller-scale businesses within the sector, while close to half of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) polled by the trade body said they have also had to outsource work to third parties, in order to complete projects.

Their data showed that bricklayers and carpenters remain in high demand, with London facing the biggest skills shortages in these areas.

After reaching out to its 8,500 SME members, the federation said a shortage of apprentices is causing problems in many regions.

The main reason why people are failing to join the industry is a lack of apprenticeships, according to the poll. Another major reason cited was the fact that many parents are pressuring their children to remain in full-time education.

There also appears to be a mismatch between wage perceptions, and the actual rates of pay which young builders can receive.

The FMB study shows that bricklayers aged 23 with five years of experience can potentially earn as much as £31,000 a year. The figure can even reach £52,000 in London, it said.

Despite this, it is feared that people aged between 16 and 24 feel they will receive low wages if they enter the construction industry.

The FMB’s research was supported by a study by the Local Government Association, which warned that plans to build as many as 275,000 affordable homes by the close of the current decade may not be achievable unless action is taken to boost skills in the construction trade.

According to the LGA’s research, employers now find it tough to fill 56% of skilled trade construction vacancies. Four years ago, this number was significantly lower, at 46%.

The association said its latest data builds on separate findings which suggest that skills shortages could hold back between 16% and 25% of forecast economic growth between now and 2022. It is thought this may include construction output worth £24 billion.

Peter Box, chair of the LGA's housing board, said: “For too long we've trained too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers.

“Too few apprentices are getting the construction skills to build the homes and roads our local communities need, and developers are struggling to recruit skilled labour to build new homes."