ONS data reveals extent of skills shortage with 33,000 jobs on offer in the sector

The construction skills shortage has intensified with the level of vacancies at its second highest level in 20 years, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

The figures show there were 33,000 job vacancies across the industry for the period between April and June this year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

It is the second highest level of vacancies in two decades, only beaten by the 35,000 jobs up for grabs between March and May this year.


Source: Noble Francis via Twitter

Some pointed out that the figures have emerged at a time when nearly 140,000 workers in construction are still on furlough.

Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, tweeted: “The comparison with a year ago isn't useful given the impact of the initial lockdown but vacancies in April-June 2021 were 24.9% higher than the average of 2019. [This] is particularly interesting given that at the end May 2021 UK construction still had 139,200 employees on partial of full furlough and contractors were still claiming government payments for."

> Analysis: So much work to do, so few workers to do it


Source: Noble Francis via Twitter

The ONS figures marry with data from 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.

Given the competition for resources, the ONS data also revealed the 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%.

Construction's wage hike was particularly notable as workers in the sector took the biggest pay cut of any industry at the start of the pandemic, with wages falling by 10.3% in the three months to June 2020.