More than three-quarters of construction professionals believe illegal gangmaster activity has increased in the past three years, according to a survey.

The Chartered Institute of Building’s latest skills survey polled more than 1,200 construction managers and directors and found that 76% believed that exploitation of vulnerable workers by gangmasters had worsened since 2005.

Fifty-one per cent of those questioned agreed that illegal activity by gangmasters was “fairly common” in the industry, with a further 11% saying it was “widespread”. However, only 10% admitted to being aware of illegal gangmaster activity themselves.

Forty-eight per cent of those questioned said the industry would benefit from a licensing system along the lines of the Gangmaster Licensing Authority that regulates the agricultural, horticultural and shellfish-gathering industries.

However, the survey concluded that a licensing act would be unlikely to benefit the industry as it would “only protect vulnerable workers who have been employed by an agency, not those who are employed directly”.