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Britain must recruit one worker every 77 seconds to meet construction needs

If Britain is to build the homes and infrastructure to meet the nation’s needs, 400,000 new workers will be needed each year – equivalent to one every 77 seconds – independent of any potential Brexit effect. However, when it comes to construction, it is sadly not as simple as merely training more people or relying on technology, automation and robotics. Getting the right people in the right places to do the right jobs is infinitely more complex than many give credit.

James Bryce

Director of Strategic Workforce Planning, UK Leadership & Management Ask me a question

“It is not as simple as just training more people or using robots. Getting the right people in the right places to do the right jobs is massively complex.”

Britain has one of the most extensive national infrastructure programmes in Europe and national housing targets are extremely ambitious. With the likes of HS2 and Crossrail underway and residential development taking place around the country, companies in the industry will draw heavily on the common talent pool. 

Many occupations have yet to recover from the blow they experienced in the wake of the financial crisis and the skills gap is becoming ever more acute. On a regional basis, the south east has the greatest additional need in house building, while London will need to employ more people in the infrastructure sector than any other area of the UK.

If Britain is going to achieve its aims of building the housing, roads and rail that it needs to prosper the issue of skills needs to be resolved extremely quickly. 

However, overcoming the skills shortfall in a short period of time cannot be wholly achieved through education and technologies alone. In the near term, construction will need to look to recruit from other industries, dramatically reduce waste and improve inefficiency as well as increase supervision to increase productivity. 

On top of this, for quicker impact, the government can help by looking to secure the rights of EU workers currently operating in British construction, greatly simplifying the visa system and minimise the tax burden on workers and business.

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James Bryce

Director of Strategic Workforce Planning, UK Leadership & Management Ask me a question

Arcadis White paper

Arcadis Talent Scale

The real extent of Britain’s construction labour crisis

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