Skills shortages hit 77% of construction businesses

Three-quarters (77%) of construction and building firms had problems recruiting new staff in 2006, according to a survey.

Seven in 10 (72%) also expect the demand for construction workers to increase over the coming year, the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) annual skills shortage survey showed.

Recruitment difficulties were cited at all levels in the building industry, but the greatest issues were reported at both management and craft/trade levels.

The study of 623 UK building and construction companies revealed that seven in 10 (68%) workers believe the existing workforce is not sufficiently skilled.

Nine in 10 also noted that the number of migrant workers in the construction industry increased in 2006, with the bulk of these workers coming from Eastern Europe. 

The most common reason given by respondents for the skills shortages was that the industry was not attractive enough to potential recruits.

Michael Brown, CIOB deputy chief executive said: “A combination of small numbers leaving university and a buoyant global construction industry have both been factors in the skills shortages we now see.

“We believe that the recruitment of non-cognate graduates is fundamental to plugging the gap and growing the industry. If we also exploit young people’s potential by giving them meaningful responsibility in their careers this would aid both retention and development. It is relatively easy to import migrant workers at craft or supervisory levels locally, from Eastern Europe, but considerably more difficult to recruit senior managers.”

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