Explore the key findings from this year’s survey
“People are getting approached by head hunters and recruiters with offers that have just stellar money attached. People are being offered 20% to 25% more than their current salaries.”
These are the words of a senior figure at a contractor who says a “very punchy” jobs market is causing wages to soar. While commercial roles, such as quantity surveyors and commercial managers, are in particularly high demand he says there are shortages across the board.
The industry insider adds that not only did salary increases and demand for staff intensify in the latter half of 2022 but it is likely there is more to come over the next 12 months. “It’s an incredibly challenging market to be recruiting in as it throws up two big challenges.”
These are the ability to retain staff who are being offered significantly more money elsewhere without busting internal pay bands and the need to avoid creating a two-tier pay system in which new recruits are being paid more than existing staff. Careful benchmarking is crucial to tackling both these problems - while boosting non-pay parts of the package – such as flexible working and career progression – is seen as particularly important to stay competitive.
Dean Averies, director at Beard, agrees. “It feels like there is a peak in demand and firms and we are really looking at how we differentiate ourselves from our competition,” he says. ”There is also a significant focus on staff retention – it’s essential that we keep hold of the high-quality staff we already have within the business.”
These staffing and salary issus – plus plenty more – are explored in the 2022 contractors’ salary survey, which explores what it means to work as a construction professional at a firm in the UK. Run in conjunction with Hays, the survey has revealed not only which professions and regions are the best and worst paid but a whole host of facts about the state of the sector.
Here are some of the key findings
A year of salary growth
Workers in every single category and sub-category of the construction profession saw their average wage go up at a national level, with salaries increasing by 2.6%, compared with the 1.1% witnessed last year.
Health and safety professionals and quantity surveyors have experienced the greatest salary increases, with average wages across these disciplines increasing by 4.2%.
Interestingly, in both these fields both junior and senior professionals enjoyed pay increases of at least 4.7% while those in the middle experienced less, with wage growth at 2% and 1.9% respectively.
Those working in contract and project management roles experienced the lowest salary increase at 2.3%, followed by site management roles, at 2.8%, and on-site engineers at 3.4%.
Overall, the Hays survey found 60% of firms had increased salaries in the past year – more than the 44% who expected to – while 65% plan to increase salaries again this year. This is more than the 58% of professionals who were expecting a salary boost.
The skills shortage is hitting hard…
The problem of skills in construction isn’t going anywhere, with 84% of firms saying they have experienced skills shortages in the past year, up from 69% in the 2021 survey.
More specifically, 53% of employers say skills shortages have had a negative impact on productivity, increasing from 46%, with 31% adding that they have also had a negative effect on employee morale, increasing from 22%.
Almost 40% say that a shortage of skills has limited firms’ abilities to deliver projects, up from 32%.
… but firms remain hopeful around recruitment
Despite a shortage of skills there is definite optimisim among firms, with the percentage of those looking to expand their workforce jumping from 77% to 84%.
Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that almost two-thirds, or 63%, are looking to recruit more permanent staff, up from 49% last year.
The figures for those planning to recruit temporary or interim staff remained stable at 38%. This figure was previously 39%.
Of those looking to recruit temporary staff, 70% said they were planning to recruit temporary or interim staff to meet peaks in demand while 26% said they will be doing so due to the difficulty finding suitable permanent workers.
Averies says the importance of non-monetary incentives such as flexible working, a work-life balance and career progression have become more significant in the wake of the pandemic.
He adds that Beard has been looking to develop its own talent pool - with a focus on apprenticeships, graduate schemes and traineeships looking to tackle the shortages moving forward.
London doesn’t always lead the way…
For those looking to earn big in site management roles, working in the capital is not necessarily the best call.
Sure, if you are the head honcho – or more specifically a senior site manager – then London is the place to be. The average wage for this role in this region sits at £70,000, £5,000 more than in the South-east, the next best paying region.
But in all other roles in this category London falls behind in pay terms - a fact of particular note given the higher cost of living within the capital.
For those working as a site manager, assistant site manager or general foreman, the best paying regions to be working in are the South-east, the East and Northern Ireland, respectively.
Averies, who is in charge of Beard’s Oxford office, says there are regions around the country, notably Oxford, where strong demand for various skills is driving up salaries.
“There is a bit of an Oxford bubble where there is peak demand,” he says. “And that is true of other areas around the country.”
He adds that quantity surveyors and project managers are in particular demand in his region.
… but overall it really still does
When you work out the average salary for all professions by region, it is not surprising that London does then come out on top.
With an overall average wage of £63,000 construction professionals in the capital are paid around 8% more than their counterparts in the South-east - the next best-paid region at £58,323.
The unnamed industry insider says the shortages are particularly acute in and around the capital - leading to this boost in the salaries that people are being offered to move firms.
Those who work in the east of England complete the top three, picking up an average of £53,912.
Construction professionals in the North-east, Northern Ireland and Wales are least well paid on average, at £45,142, £46,312 and £47,911 respectively.
No pay data was available for health and safety professionals in the North-east meaning the average for this region does not include this profession
The salary data has been complied using information gathered during 2021 from Hays offices across the UK. It is based on job listings, job offers and candidate registrations.
The survey was conducted between 9 August and 31 August 2021 and received 22,749 responses. It was completed by professionals from the UK working across a range of industry sectors.
The survey had 1,538 respondents from professionals working in contractor and multidisciplinary firms, and 582 respondents from contractor and multidisciplinary firms themselves.