Over 2.6 million now working in construction

A new report from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has found that the number of people working in construction in the UK is now over 2.6 million. The last time the number were this high was in 2009 before the full effect of the credit crunch had hit. The number of construction workers is predicted to continue rising over the next 5 years, albeit at the relatively low rate of 0.6%.

There are current shortages in the construction industry around carpenters and bricklayers. While these shortages are not predicted to disappear many of the roles that will need to be filled in the next 5 years will be technical or management.  The table below shows the number of people working in various parts of the construction industry now and in the numbers predicted to be there in 2021.

Job 2017 2021 Difference
Senior, executive, and business process managers 172,930 177,710 4,780
Construction project managers 47,800 52,110 4,310
Non-construction professional, technical, IT and other office-based staff 356,430 373,120 16,690
Construction trades supervisors 49,010 52,980 3,970
Wood trades and interior fit-out 264,720 262,920 -1,800
Bricklayers 72,700 72,760 60
Building envelope specialists 107,010 105,000 -2,010
Painters and decorators 112,180 111,080 -1,100
Plasterers 49,320 47,500 -1,820
Roofers 44,230 43,830 -400
Floorers 26,630 25,580 -1,050
Glaziers 30,620 29,680 -940
Scaffolders 23,600 24,390 790
Plant operatives 39,580 42,040 2,460
Plant mechanics/fitters 40,960 39,310 -1,650
Steel erectors/structural fabrication 25,700 25,450 -250
Labourers nec* 124,750 127,220 2,470
Electrical trades and installation 183,470 175,440 -8,030
Plumbing and HVAC Trades 166,600 161,100 -5,500
Logistics 22,070 23,260 1,190
Civil engineers 53,630 57,610 3,980
Architects 43,480 47,800 4,320
Surveyors 72,040 76,250 4,210

As you can see the areas with the biggest predicted increases are professional and office based staff including project managers, architects and surveyors. The biggest decreases are predicted to be in some of the more traditional trades such as electrical and plumbing work.


Infrastructure Growth

Part of the explanation for why more technical and professional construction roles will see the larger increases is down to the type of work expected to see most growth. The CITB report claims that government infrastructure projects will be responsible for 45% of all growth in the construction industry between 2017 and 2021. The Hinkley Point nuclear power station on its worn is estimated to account for 0.8% of construction output in 2021. With other new nuclear power stations and HS2 due to start in the next couple of years there is going to be a need for a large number of planning and support workers while less skilled labour is generally needed for this type of project.

The CITB projections do depend heavily on the government continuing with it’s current infrastructure spending plans and with Brexit not having a huge impact on construction. However, they are a useful guide for those involved in construction recruitment and skills training. For the professional and technical roles that the CITB are predicting will see the biggest growth it can easily take 4 or 5 years to train new people. Having a rough ideas of the likely construction recruitment needs in 2021 at least lets us start planning.


RedRock Recruitment are a specialist construction recruitment company serving London and the South of England. We do recruitment accross the construction industry, including for professional and technical roles. To find out more about our construction recruitment service give us a call on  01992 807911