FMB survey highlights demand for carpenters, joiners and bricklayers

brian berry

The proportion of small builders struggling to recruit key categories of skilled worker has almost doubled over the past 12 months, a new survey has found.

According to the Federation of Master Builders’ latest state of trade survey, 44% of small construction firms are having difficulty recruiting qualified joiners and carpenters, a significant increase from the 23% who reported such issues this time last year.

Its fourth quarter 2014 survey also found that 42% of firms were struggling to find bricklayers, up from 27% in the same quarter of 2013.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said the survey had also flagged up a significant shortage of roofers, plasterers and site managers.

“The skills time bomb has arisen for a number of reasons: Around 400,000 construction workers left the industry since the downturn hit in 2007 and many will never return,” he said.

“If you combine this with an increase in workloads as the economy recovers, all the signs point to the skills shortage getting worse before it gets better.”

Berry urged the government to review its proposed apprenticeship funding reforms, which he said FMB members believed would prevent them from training apprentices.

“In the midst of a skills crisis, it’s the last thing the construction industry needs,” he said.