Britain needs to hire 400,000 workers a year to keep building homes


That works out to the recruitment of one new construction worker every 77 seconds until 2021, according to construction consultancy Arcadis.

This is due to ever-increasing demands for building homes, as well as a workforce that is shrinking due to demographics, with not enough new recruits replacing those who are leaving, the Telegraph reports.

It calculated that if the UK increases the number of homes it builds every year to 270,000 – which is higher than the Government’s target of 200,000 yet below what some experts think is necessary to ease the housing crisis – more than 370,000 new workers will have to be employed.

The report also warned that if new recruits are not added to the workforce, the cost of building will shoot up. Carpenters and joiners are most needed, followed by plumbers, electricians, and bricklayers.

This calculation does not take into account any impact of lower immigration as a result of leaving the European Union. It found that if there is a ‘hard’ Brexit, such as the extension of the points-based immigration system currently in place for non-EU migrants, 215,000 fewer people from the EU will join the UK’s construction industry by 2020. One in eight construction workers in the UK are foreign; in London that figure is 23 per cent.

James Bryce, director of workforce planning at Arcadis, said: “What we have is not a skills gap; it is a skills gulf. Systemic under-investment in the nation’s workforce has contributed to a reduction in UK productivity.

“Construction employment is already down 15 per cent on 2008 and, quite simply, if we don’t have the right people to build the homes and infrastructure we need, the UK is going to struggle to maintain its competitive position in the global economy.”

It echoes a Government report carried out by Mark Farmer last year, called ‘Modernise or Die’, which warned that there was an acute skills shortage that would have to be solved by embracing off-site manufacturing of homes and other innovations. He has said that without any change, the workforce will decrease by 20-25 per cent in the next 10 years.