Building firms face skills shortage
Building firms are having to hire bricklayers from Portugal, paying them £1,000 a week, because of a shortage of workers from the UK, it has been revealed.
A study by employment group Manpower confirmed fears from across British industry of a problem taking on suitably skilled employees.
One in three large construction firms in London are having to turn down bidding opportunities because of a shortage of skilled workers, said Manpower.
Managing director Mark Cahill said he has been told that firms normally paying £500 a week for bricklayers were having to pay twice that for skilled workers from Portugal.
A survey of over 2,000 employers by Manpower suggested that larger companies are set to lead a job creation "charge" early next year.
The most optimistic sector is utilities, reflecting investment by energy firms.
Mr Cahill said: "2014 was a bumper year for jobseekers, with the highest level of job creation in 40 years. 2015 will begin with employers in an even more confident position and we are optimistic about job prospects for the rest of the year. The main catalyst is big business hiring."
Manpower said its research showed that employment prospects in the construction industry were at their strongest level since 2007.
North East England employers reported the brightest outlook for jobs among the regions.
Mr Cahill added: "The growth in customer service roles is a significant driver of optimism in the North East. We've been recruiting for thousands of people across several contact centres - a huge source of employment in the region - and demand continues to outstrip the supply of candidates."
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Government-led efforts over the past four years have got Britain building, creating thousands of jobs across the country.
"In the last year alone planning permission has been granted on 230,000 new homes and private house building starts are at their highest for seven years.
"The Government wants to maintain this momentum and ensure British workers - whether those leaving school, leaving our Armed Forces or considering a return to the industry - benefit from the new career opportunities available.
"In November ministers agreed with the housebuilders to create tens of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships on sites across the country, to nurture home-grown talent for years to come."