After a period of pay freezes and lack of opportunities, the recovery is set to benefit workers

Joey Gardiner

Undoubtedly it is disappointing to see how quickly the issue of skills shortages is raising its head as the construction economy starts to recover.

Crossrail boss Andrew Wolsthenholme cautioned the industry in 2009 that it shouldn’t waste the economic crisis as an opportunity to reform itself. If the cancellation of apprenticeships and graduate schemes over the last five years, and the seeming inability of the industry to prepare by building capacity for a rebound is anything to go by, it’s not an opportunity that has been taken.

But right now, with recovery still so new and so patchy, in truth it is hard to feel anything other than relief that this period of industry austerity seems to be slowly lifting. Finally it feels like staff who have endured years of overwork, lack of opportunities and pay freezes - if not pay cuts - may finally have something to look forward to. After years of employers having the whip hand, employees are about to find out they suddenly have a value again.