There is a housing shortage in the UK, which means that developers are building more homes. But, the number of homes being built is not meeting demand, which means they need to find ways to build more.
With more homes comes a need for more skilled workers. Many tradesmen are used to build a new home, and the bricklayers are essential to the construction process. They are the ones that take the plans and build a house from the ground upwards. But, is there a shortage of bricklayers in the UK?
Bricklaying is a valued skill when building homes, but there is a shortage of bricklayers. Around 68% of small to medium sized construction companies have problems hiring bricklayers. There are several reasons why there is a shortage in the UK.
Older bricklayers have left the industry and fewer people are entering. Often, there are not enough new trainees to meet the demands of the construction industry. This means that there are not enough new bricklayers to cover the shortage. Also, this has been made worse by the government making a commitment to build 300,000 homes per year.
Why is There a Bricklayer Shortage?
There seems to be a real problem in the construction industry when it comes to bricklayers. The construction industry needs to keep up with the demand to build more homes. As stated above, the government has made a commitment to build 300,000 new homes, however, the shortage of bricklayers makes this a challenge.
The construction industry has the problem of an ageing workforce. Back in 2011, 20% of construction workers were aged 55 or over. These workers have now reached retirement age and are likely to have left the industry. In London alone, 600,000 construction workers have left the industry in recent years.
The training available for younger people has been a real issue. The quality of training does not match the needs of the construction industry. Additionally, over the last three years far less apprenticeships were started. Due to this, only around 2,000 young people qualify with a technical certificate in bricklaying, which is particularly low. As it currently stands, the UK needs around 15,000 bricklayers and according to the federation of master builders companies are struggling to hire skilled tradesmen.
Furthermore, the effects of Brexit cause a problem for the industry. Many Eu Nationals have left the UK. This places even more strain on the construction industry and the shortage of bricklayers.
How Has the Shortage Affected Bricklayer Wages?
The average salary of a bricklayer is £42,000. But, a shortage of bricklayers means that bricklayers can ask for more money.
Back in 2020, construction companies were paying around £525 for every 1,000 bricks. The industry has now seen this increase to as much as £650, but many companies cannot afford to pay this.
Bricklayers demand higher pay because they recognise the problems companies face. Some companies cannot compete with the demands which cause developments to become uneconomical. It has become a competitive market and many businesses simply cannot compete.
As the UK has come out of lockdown, all areas of England have seen an increase in bricklayer earnings. The North East has seen a 27% year on year increase which highlights the real change in earnings.
The commitment to build homes and a shortage of skilled bricklayers means that they are in control of what they can ask for.
Is Bricklaying a Good Career in the UK
The construction industry is booming. The need for housing is growing, and the government has made a massive commitment, which means that bricklayers are in high demand.
Bricklayers can earn an excellent wage in the UK, with many earning above £40,000. It’s a hard and physical job but the pay makes it worthwhile. The growth in construction is also giving bricklayers more options and opportunities. Large construction companies want full-time bricklayers, and this will appeal to those who look for a guarantee of work each week.
It’s a good career for those who prefer to work outside, and those who seek job satisfaction. The ability to complete a house and see it evolve in front of their eyes makes this a career for those who like to see results.
The UK is entering a period of growth. House building will increase and so will the opportunities. This means that jobs are going to become readily available for those bricklayers already in the industry.
If anyone is looking to get into the industry, now is a perfect time. Pay is higher, there is a need for bricklayers, and it looks as though things won’t change anytime in the near future.
Is There a Solution to the Shortage?
The government will need to consider on-the-job training. This will mean providing support to construction businesses. It will also mean promoting careers in bricklaying in schools and colleges.
Brexit and the covid 19 pandemic have made this issue worse, as many EU Nationals chose to return home. The government could make it easier for them to return to the UK, which would help reduce the shortage.
Construction companies can take on apprentices and give work experience to younger people. But, less than 50% of construction companies plan to take on apprentices over the next few months. Also, around 60% have not given unpaid work experience in the last year.
So, the construction industry could do more. But, these companies and the government could do more together to ease the problem.
Bricklayers are in demand, but the shortage causes problems for construction companies. The shortage leads to demands for higher pay, with some developments facing financial challenges.
There are solutions, but it is likely that the shortage is not going to end any time soon. It will take the right approach from the government and companies to help solve this shortage issue.