Construction growth hampered by perfect storm of issues

Construction growth
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Construction firms need to recruit and invest in both traditional and new digital skills to harness post-pandemic growth. But talent shortages, inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, and Brexit, are getting in the way.

That’s according to the report UK construction in 2022: Addressing talent challenges for the future workforce, published by Autodesk.

In a survey of 207 UK construction professionals 58% said they were unable to find people with the right skills. More than a third (36%) said they were struggling to hire because they couldn’t offer competitive salaries due to the increased cost of living. And 42% said there was a shortage of labour due to Brexit.

Of those finding it difficult to recruit, 51% found electricians the most difficult to find, 49% found bricklayers the most tricky to recruit, and 41% struggled to find plumbers.

Across digital skills, 23% found they couldn’t recruit in augmented reality (AR) and 23% said they couldn’t find people with virtual reality (VR) skills. AR and VR are set to be among the skills most in demand in the next five-to-10 years.  

Post-Covid growth

However, most companies are experiencing post-Covid growth with 57% predicting an increase in revenue in the next financial year, with an average expected growth of 27%. To support growth, 79% of construction businesses are recruiting, with 42% saying staff recruitment will be their biggest investment in the next two years.  

Autodesk director of construction strategy Matt Keen said: “It is clear from our research that the construction industry needs to continue to develop traditional skill sets at the same time as developing the digital capabilities needed to deliver on the country’s goals around growth and sustainability."

He added: “We must invest in the next generation of skilled workers and emerging technologies that are increasingly shaping the built environment now to compete for talent, and present construction as an attractive career path for the decades to come.”  

Amit Oberoi, non-executive chair of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, said: “Improving equality, diversity and inclusion will help to bring new kinds of talent to construction, particularly as new technologies and methods of construction are adopted. Construction companies and sites can be the best advertisement not just for themselves, but for the industry as a whole.”

On a more positive note, the survey found construction firms felt prepared to meet new regulatory requirements. A total of 72% believe their company is well-equipped to adapt to the changes in the Building Safety Act.  

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