UK home builders facing a severe shortage of workers

Taylor Scott International News

It is not a lack of materials, sites or ability that is preventing house builders in the UK from meeting targets but a lack of workers, according to some of the country’s largest home firms. If 200,000 new homes are to be built by 2020, a target pledged by the government, recruitment in the industry would have to take a sharp upturn from current numbers, especially for the most highly skilled workers. ‘Whilst we as an industry are committed to the target of more affordable homes available to first time buyers, Weston Homes has had to really ramp up its recruitment in order to meet these targets,’ said Bob Weston, the firm’s chairman and chief executive. ‘We currently have a shortfall within the industry of skilled tradesmen, construction managers and fabricators, especially those with many years’ experience providing the quality we expect,’ he added. He pointed out that Weston Homes has recently sent 6,500 letters to local schools, attempting to attract more young people into apprenticeships and eventually the construction industry to meet the shortfall. In the last month Weston Homes has taken on 23 new recruits into its apprenticeship scheme, who join in to the around 20% of employees studying for NVQ’s, attending ILM management training or on sponsored day release courses. ‘It takes two years to train skilled workers and five years to train our best recruits to management level, though of course development lasts a lifetime. Finding someone with 20 plus years of experience is becoming increasingly rare and difficult,’ Weston said. ‘We have always been committed to getting more young people involved in the industry, and with these new affordable home targets we will need, as an industry, to open our doors to bright young apprentices,’ he added. Recent research from the Federation of Master Builders said that 66% of small and medium construction firms have had to turn down work because they don't have enough workers and the biggest shortages are for bricklayers and carpenters. The shortages all around the UK, with the east of England suffering from a short supply of plasterers, while the West Midlands is struggling to find scaffolders. Northern Ireland has the greatest need for general labourers. Firms said the main problem was difficulty in finding apprentices, and a lack of apprenticeships has held back potential new entrants to the jobs market with a belief that many are bowing to pressure from their parents to stay in full time education. ‘The lack of experienced multi skilled workers is a huge concern for my business, as it could affect our future growth plans. We urgently need tradespeople that are trained in more than one area, such as plumbing, tiling and joinery for bathroom installations but we just aren’t seeing the candidates come through,’ said Tony Passmore, chief executive of the Leeds based Passmore Group. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) agreed that recruiting and training people was now… Continue reading →

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