“Crunch time” for the UK construction industry


Manny Aparicio, national head of project management at Naismiths, has commented on the new construction labour force report published today by the Office for National Statistics.

He said: “It’s crunch time for the construction industry. What's very clear from this report is that the UK housing crisis will soon be facing a crisis of its own, in the form of recruitment. The London construction sector is particularly exposed to potential fallout from Brexit, as more than a third of its workers are from EU and non-EU countries.

“We have an ageing workforce of UK construction workers that is simply not being replenished at the required rate. Once a significant percentage of workers retire, and that day is fast approaching, the sector will struggle.

“Much of the current domestic recruitment vacuum relates back to the collapse of the property market during the global financial crisis. This alienated a whole generation of potential construction workers.

“There's also the small problem that construction is seen as a legacy sector compared to technology. In plain English, it's perceived to be far less sexy, which is reflected in the declining number of apprenticeships.

“The youngest blood in construction is currently the non-UK nationals, but if Brexit makes the UK a less attractive place to work, then that demographic could disappear at the same time as the older UK hands retire. It's a double whammy.

“If Brexit does make it harder for overseas workers to take up jobs in construction, due to increased red tape and potential costs, the construction industry will suffer. Anyone in the sector needs to understand the potential cost increase of workers during the decade ahead. Failure to factor this in could be disastrous.”