Demand for construction workers close to 20 year high
The level of construction vacancies has hit its second highest level in 20 years, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figures show there were 33,000 job vacancies across the industry for the period between April and June this year, surpassing the number of vacancies seen before the pandemic. It is the second highest level of vacancies in two decades, only beaten by the 35,000 jobs posted between March and May this year.
Even when compared to pre-pandemic data, the construction jobs market is looking particularly strong. Construction vacancies in 2021 are 24.9% higher compared to 2019, suggesting that the flurry of new jobs isn’t entirely down to the pandemic. There is a lot of pent up demand in the industry, with construction projects that were put on hold now in full swing, creating a high demand for construction workers. This stretches from well-skilled, experienced workers to apprentices and trainees, and includes all trades, with architects and bricklayers particularly sought after.
Noticeably, despite the increase in vacancies there has been a decrease in the number of applicants. This is according to recruitment specialists Randstad, which posted 60,000 job vacancies in construction, property and engineering in the six months between December last year and this May.
This was up from 43,000 jobs in the six months between May and November last year.
While the recruiter fielded nearly 370,000 applications for these roles during that period, there was a 16% decline in the number of applicants between December and May this year, with fewer applicants competing for nearly twice the number of jobs.
Construction workers enjoying a big pay rise
Given the competition for resources, the ONS data also revealed the construction industry had seen the second highest rate of annual percentage growth in overall pay with a 9.7% increase in the period from March to May 2021. Only those working in the finance and business services industry saw their pay increase by more, at 10.2%.
The increase in pay and vacancies is linked to an increase in construction output, with the industry enjoying double digit growth throughout 2021 so far, and projected to grow by 5.2% in 2022, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. The areas enjoying strongest growth are housebuilding, repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI), and commercial space.
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