Booming demand for construction workers is driving up costs and competition for skills on public infrastructure plans in Scotland worth £33billion, a report has warned.
The Scottish construction and property sector is seeing a surge in permanent job registrations with a 59% increase the last twelve weeks compared to the same period prior, according to a report by recruitment specialists Hays Scotland. The firm added temporary job registrations have also increased by over 42%.
Hays said the surge is due to planned Scottish Government investment on a range of infrastructure schemes, including green projects, housing and transport initiatives.
However, contractors are now “struggling” to attract skilled workers, which is raising questions over project time scales.
Skill shortages could lead to project delays
Claire Sheerin, director of Hays Construction & Property in Scotland, said employers were considering ways to increase the workforce but there was no “short-term fix”.
She said: “Many clients are struggling to attract the level of skill they require for their projects and are thinking about how they can upskill or retrain others.
“Retraining will feature highly in the future of Scotland’s construction sector, but it’s certainly not a short-term fix.”
The Scottish Government’s £33bn of infrastructure investment planning and capital spending in Scotland, has been hailed as a huge boost to the economy.
Over the next five years it includes £5bn for city and regional growth, £30 million for the National Islands Plan, £1.6bn to decarbonise heat in buildings, and £2.8bn to deliver more affordable and social homes.
The growth in demand for skills marks a recovery for the construction industry in Scotland, which makes up 12% of Scotland’s companies employing in excess of 143,000 people.
She said: “The demand we’re seeing is in line with or, in many areas, ahead of pre-pandemic levels, leading to confidence about the future of this sector for 2021 and beyond.
“However, as a result, we’re witnessing skills shortages across a broad spectrum of construction jobs notably time-served joiners, quantity surveyors, electricians and skilled trades.
“Civil engineers and landscape architects are also in demand following the investment in civil infrastructure projects.”
The demand we’re seeing is in line with or, in many areas, ahead of pre-pandemic levels, leading to confidence about the future of this sector for 2021 and beyond.”
Claire Sheerin, director of Hays Construction & Property in Scotland
Employers in competition
The surge in demand coupled with shortages, means that higher rates are being paid to attract trades in short supply and employers are in competition to fulfil their staffing requirements to keep projects on track.
Hay’s research shows that close to a quarter (22%) of employers in Scotland say they don’t have access to the right skills to enable them to meet organisational objectives.
While 45% of employers said the biggest barrier to finding people with the right skills was a shortage of suitable applicants, followed by 43% who said competition from other employers.
Offering the longest-term contracts possible is one sure way to help attract the best talent.”
Ms Sheerin urged employers to plan ahead: “Pragmatic approaches such as offering the longest-term contracts possible is one sure way to help attract the best talent.
“Planning is also been cited as critical by many contractors within the industry over the following months, as knowing well in advance what your key project milestones are will allow you to plan your resources more effectively.”