How will Brexit hit construction recruitment in London?

There were reports this week that Brexit is already having a big impact on recruitment to the NHS. There has been a drop of 92% in the number of EU nurses applying to work in the NHS since the referendum. At the same time there has been a 68% increase in the number of EU nurses leaving the NHS. It will be a while before we are able to get similar figures for the construction industry but the impact could be just as dramatic. Around 5% of nurses in the NHS are from EU countries. In the construction industry the percentage of workers from the EU is higher, around 8% nationally.

As the table below shows very large numbers of construction workers in London are from the EU. Just the Polish and Romanian construction workers add up to almost 60,000.

Country Construction workers in London
Austria 279
Bulgaria 6,625
Croatia 291
Cyprus 509
Czech Republic 214
France 2,507
Germany 1,766
Greece 987
Hungary 685
Italy 730
Latvia 1,509
Lithuania 10,955
Poland 27,178
Portugal 1,220
Republic of Ireland 7,485
Romania 29,475
Slovakia 306
Spain 2,111

(Figures taken from Greater London Authority Labour Force Survey)

If the number of EU construction workers leaving was anywhere close to the levels seen in the NHS it could cause major issues for the construction industry in London. There are already shortages of skilled workers in a number of trades such as bricklaying and carpentry and large parts of the construction trade in London are propped up by EU workers.

Construction makes up around 3% of the workforce in London. However, the construction workers employed in London make up 11% of all UK construction workers. This means that London already pulls in a lot of construction workers from across the UK as well as from further afield. With the length of time it takes to properly train new construction workers it could be several years before a meaningful number of new construction workers can trained up.


Fixing the construction recruitment gap

If there are going to be less skilled construction workers available in London then finding the right workers for projects is going to be harder than ever. This is where a specialist construction recruitment company like RedRock Recruitment really comes into its own. We have access to many construction workers who are not on the general market and keep in close touch with people we have placed on fixed term contracts. Therefore we are ideally placed to fill construction recruitment gaps in London.

If you are struggling to recruit construction workers in London then give our team of specialist construction recruiters a call on 01992 807911 and we will be happy to help.


Schools and Colleges Failing to Help Construction Recruitment Gap

We all know that there is a skills gap in the construction industry. As a country the UK simply does not train enough young people to work in construction making it hard for construction companies to recruit the skilled staff that they need. Shortages could get worse in the next few years as uncertainly over Brexit may discourage the 12% of the construction workforce who are immigrants from staying. With another 19% of the construction workforce due to retire in the next five to ten years it is vital that training and recruitment into the construction industry works smoothly. Two new studies released this month highlight the scale of the problem.

A new survey by Redrow found that 50% of young people said they had not been given any information about careers in construction. This included verbal conversations with teachers and careers advisors as well as the careers literature available in their school. While schools were bad at discussing construction careers with young people the same survey found that 72% of parents have never discussed the prospect of a career in construction with their child. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that 52% of young people surveyed reported that they had never considered a career in construction.

Much of the reluctance among parents to discuss construction careers with their children was down to the perception of it being a low skill and low wage industry. These attitudes have carried over into their children with 55% of young people believing a career in construction mainly involves manual labour while 19% of young people believe a career in construction does not require any qualifications beyond GCSEs. There is, therefore, still a long way to go to educate schools, parents and young people about the opportunities available in construction.

While there is work to do to get more young people to apply for construction careers another new report suggests that more needs to improve the training new recruits receive. Research by the Unite union has found that 89% of people beginning a construction training course are studying for classroom based qualifications. The main qualifications recognised in the construction industry are NVQs which can only be gained with significant time on site. Without an NVQ it is not normally possible to get a Construction Sector Certification Scheme (CSCS) card which is required to get work on sites.  192,500 people started a classroom based construction course in 2015/16 compared to just 21,460 people who started an apprenticeship.

So, it seems that if we want to solve the problems with recruiting enough skilled workers into the construction industry there is still a lot to do. As an industry we need to make sure that the training we offer is up to scratch and then do more to make sure young people are aware of the careers and opportunities available.