UK Job Vacancies in Construction Hit Pre-Pandemic Levels

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), job vacancies in the construction industry returned to pre-pandemic levels in the last quarter of 2020.

The ONS reported 28,000 job vacancies in the last quarter of 2020. Vacancies haven’t been this high since January of 2019, when there were 29,000 jobs available. This is a sharp recovery after the number of vacancies in the industry fell by 41% in March of last year, around the beginning of the lockdowns.

ONS data showed that vacancies in the construction industry increased by 25% in the last quarter of 2020. Construction was also one of only two sectors that saw vacancies in the last quarter of 2020 be higher than they were in the same period of 2019. Between October and December of 2020, job vacancies were 8% higher than in the same period last year.

These are welcomed news for anyone looking for signs of the industry recovering, as an uptick in job vacancies often reflects an increase in economic activity. The fact that major players in the construction industry are seeking to fill vacancies — many of which were generated by layoffs made earlier in 2020 — means that the industry is confident in its prospects for 2021. It’s a sign of economic recovery.

The growth in construction vacancies comes despite historic-high unemployment rates in the UK. ONS labor force statistics estimated that the rate of unemployment across the UK hit 5% in the later months of 2020. It was the highest unemployment rate since 2016, and many industries saw unemployment rates above that 5% margin.

While we wait for the world’s economies to bounce back after the pandemic, job hunters are being encouraged to seek employment in industries that are doing well. There are already programs and campaigns made to encourage job seekers to find work in construction here in the UK. 

Among them is the Construction Talent Retention Scheme, a not-for-profit program funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The program created a portal that helps employers and job applicants connect and it is already advertising over a thousand vacancies for a wide variety of construction-related roles. Including vacancies for senior positions, and sales-related vacancies.

The high number of vacancies also reflects the fact that the industry is having a hard time finding talent to take these jobs. “This is partly due to construction work recovering to higher than pre-pandemic levels in some sectors such as private housing repair and maintenance, infrastructure and residential new build, combined with a drop in the EU construction workforce, which particularly affects London,” stated Professor Noble Francis, the Construction Products Association economics director.

Private residential construction and infrastructure work area at the forefront of the industry’s recovery. And data shows that the construction output levels in November of last year hit their highest levels since January of 2019.

This has led not only to an increase in the amount of business in the construction industry, but also more business for service providers and consulting firms — like Arbtech Consulting Ltd — that play an auxiliary role in a variety of construction projects.