Last edited 02 Nov 2015

Construction wages and apprenticeships on the rise

In 2014/15, for the second year in a row, the number of people starting construction, planning and the built environment apprenticeships in England rose, reaching 17,820. Although the figure was the highest since 2010/11, it was still considerably lower than 2006/07 when 27,300 people started construction apprenticeships.

The news of increase came as construction industry employment continued to grow at a steady rate with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing a 0.5% rise in construction employees over the previous year, from 2,096,000 to 2,106,000.

For some, this growth in employment and apprenticeship numbers provided evidence of the industry responding to warnings about skills shortages.

Tom Crane, an economist at industry analyst Glenigan said, “The increased numbers of apprenticeships may not solve the skills shortage in the short-term, this will be solved by people coming back from other industries and abroad. However, the statistics suggest that the industry is starting to invest more in the future.

"At the moment I think that the fear of the skill shortage is greater than the actual shortage in labour on the ground. The awareness that has been created may be encouraging companies to plan ahead. If we were to have another year with growth of 4-5% then we would have issues, but growth of 2-3% the industry should be able to handle.”

In addition to these figures, analysis of Labour Market statistics revealed that the average weekly earnings of construction workers in the three months to August 2015 was £593, compared with £557 the year before. This rise by an average of 5.1% was the fastest annual increase in any UK industry, together with an increase of 10,000 jobs since June 2014.

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: “The construction industry is a real success story. More than 2 million people are employed in the sector, and their hard work is resulting in more money in their pay packets. Up and down the country more people are in work and enjoying the security of a pay-cheque, helping transform Britain into a higher wage, lower taxation and lower welfare society.”