Property News

UK housebuilding delayed due to lack of skilled workers-RICS

Em Morley - January 14, 2016

The hold up in construction of new homes is being driven by a shortage of skilled workers in the sector, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

It fears that a lack of construction skills is threatening work on new homes and infrastructure projects.


In a survey conducted by RICS, six in ten respondents said that they had difficulty locating bricklayers and quantity surveyors for specific tasks.

Wages for construction workers increased by in excess of 6% in the year to October, which was more than three times the average wage increase for UK workers. However, RICS’ latest market survey, assessing the final quarter of 2015, suggests labour shortages were considered to be the largest barrier to growth by almost two-thirds of industry professionals.

UK housebuilding delayed due to lack of skilled workers-RICS

UK housebuilding delayed due to lack of skilled workers-RICS

This will come as a blow to the Government, which has pledged to increase housebuilding in an attempt to tackle the growing housing shortage. Despite the number of homes being constructed rising from lows after the financial crisis, they are well below their 2007 highs. In addition, they are well short of the 250,000 that many experts feel are required to satisfy unwilting demand.

Further research from the Guardian suggests that major firms have secured land for 600,000 homes, all of which have yet to built. The Local Government Association said that the total number of unbuilt homes that have already been given planning permission are at record highs.

Just last week, the LGA called for tougher sanctions on slow building.


RICS noted that the building industry lost many skilled workers on the back of the economic crisis, many of who cannot be tempted back into the sector. The orgnaisation believes there is not enough being done to attract new trainees, despite the recent wage increases.

‘While workloads are still growing at a relatively healthy pace, labour shortages in the construction sector are causing delays at different stages in the development process and leading to significant problems with project planning,’ noted Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS. ‘More than 60% of our survey respondents said that these resulting planning delays were an impediment to growth.’[1]

‘That said, industry wages are becoming increasingly attractive, and I would hope that over time this will encourage skilled workers to return to the sector, as well as drawing school leavers and graduates towards construction-industry careers, he added.[1]