Belfast Telegraph

Staff shortage in construction industry: report

By Staff Reporter

Most smaller building firms are struggling to hire carpenters, joiners and bricklayers, a new report has revealed.

Salaries in the industry are increasing because of the “ever worsening” shortage of skilled workers, said the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Its survey of almost 350 small to medium-sized construction companies (SMEs) found that the sector was growing but at a slower rate.

Around three out of five expected wages to increase in the coming months while most believe the price of materials will rise.

Three out of five said they were having problems recruiting carpenters, joiners and bricklayers.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Material price hikes and skills shortages are putting the brakes on growth among the UK’s small building firms.

“Now that the general election is well and truly behind us, it was our hope that consumer confidence would spring back and spur growth among small building firms in the third quarter of this year.

“However, our latest research shows that rising costs are dampening the performance of construction SMEs. The spike in salaries is a direct result of the ever worsening skills shortage in our sector. It’s a simple consequence of supply and demand.

“Construction workers know their worth and given the scarcity of skilled tradespeople, these individuals are understandably demanding higher wages from their employers.”

There have also been recent warnings over a slowdown in public construction sector work, due to the collapse of Stormont, according to the Construction Employers Federation and BDO.

The survey shows that around two-thirds of construction firms here said their books were full, or almost full, in the first six months of the year.

Brian Murphy, partner at BDO, said that “potentially, thousands of new jobs” could be created thanks to the additional £400m of infrastructure funding being made available.

A lot of that cash, more than £130m, will go towards the York Street Interchange project.

House building has helped fuel a surge in work in Northern Ireland’s construction sector.

The survey showed sustained growth in the first six months of the year.

Belfast Telegraph

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