According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of job vacancies in construction has risen to the highest level since official records began in 2001.
As reported by Construction Enquirer, from July to September (one of the busiest times for construction) unfilled jobs rose to 43,000, just over 45% higher than the previous April to June period and nearly double the same period a year ago.
This equates to around 2.9 vacancies for every 100 jobs in the industry.
Construction salaries rise sharply
In August, Advantage wrote about how shortages of staff and materials were slowing construction growth. And according to the ONS, the challenge of recruiting enough staff has been driving wages up sharply, with wages rising by 9.7% in June to August 2021.
This ranked as the second highest all-industry wage inflation, just behind financial services at 11%.
The number of UK job vacancies hits a record high
The BBC reported that overall, the number of job vacancies in the UK has hit a record high, according to the latest official figures.
“The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels,” said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.
“Vacancies also reached a new one-month record in September, at nearly 1.2 million, with our latest estimates suggesting that all industries have at least as many jobs on offer now as before the onset of Covid-19.”
Advantage’s view: In construction, as in all other sectors, recruiting and retaining the best possible candidates is clearly key to running a successful business. At present, attracting such candidates means raising salaries, with wages within construction rising much more rapidly than within most other sectors. It may also mean offering a joining bonus (with the Daily Mirror reporting that the proportion of employers offering a ‘golden hello’ signing bonus in an effort to woo recruits in the UK has soared by 75% in just three months). Such financial incentives may help to address staff shortages in the short term, but such sharp wage growth is unlikely to be sustainable in the longer term. This is already leading some within construction (and in other sectors) to ask whether long-term visas could be offered in order to recruit more candidates from outside of the UK to help sectors that otherwise look set to face ongoing staff shortages. In the meantime, it looks likely that construction firms will need to continue to offer higher salaries in order to fill vacancies over the coming months.
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