Bricklayers, masons, plasterers, carpenters, and roofers are among a raft of trades the construction industry hopes will become easier to recruit from abroad to ease chronic shortages.

On the eve of the spring budget the Construction Leadership Council, CLC has published a report calling for 20 different trades to be added to the migration advisory committee’s occupation, MAC, shortage list.

CLC industry-side chair and group chairman of MACE Mark Reynolds said: “A dynamic immigration system allows us to bridge gaps in workforce need and meet the people requirement for the sector’s pipeline of work.”

Industry research shows 30,000 new recruits are needed to build an extra 10,000 new homes with bricklayers, groundwork operatives and site managers, particularly in demand.

Building industry vacancies among the highest

National Federation of Builders, NFB, policy director and report lead author James M Butcher said: “Construction faces a vacancy rate higher than the all-industry average, so it is fair to say we are in a worse position than many other industries. The occupations we have recommended are based on a solid evidential base for the sector’s need over the next five years.”

The Construction Industry Training Board has calculated 225,000 more workers will be needed over the next four years to meet demand.

Although the government has introduced measures to encourage people back to work it has accepted this is insufficient to address the UK’s current 1.2m job vacancies. It’s hoped MAC’s imminent report will include key construction roles in the occupation shortage list.

This will allow employers to hire crucial staff on a lower salary threshold of just over £20,000 compared with the current ‘skilled worker’ threshold of £26,200 plus pay reduced visa fees.

Nearly half of small builders favour increased immigration with 60 per cent saying jobs are delayed due to difficulties hiring bricklayers and carpenters, according to the Federation of Master Builders, FMB, latest trade survey.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “While immigration will help grow the construction sector, there still needs to be an investment in UK-based training to train the next generation of builders.”

Property finance intermediaries Hank Zarihs Associates said that development finance lenders were concerned that it was difficult for SME builders to accurately gauge project costs due to staff shortages.

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