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Skills still in short supply despite recession

Recruiting staff is still difficult in spite of the recession, according to new research by the CIOB. By Lucy Handley

More than three quarters of those surveyed said that there is a skills shortage. Although this is a reduction on last year’s figure of 93 per cent, it is still surprising, given that in theory the industry has more available candidates because of the recession.

The hardest candidates to recruit were craft and trade workers with a third of those surveyed saying they were ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to hire, closely followed by senior management with 29 per cent.

These figures are a dramatic reduction on last years, which were 90 per cent and 83 per cent respectively.

The CIOB’s deputy chief executive Michael Brown said: “We were surprised that there is still a skills shortage in the industry. It could be that employers have made a recruitment freeze because no one knows what is around the corner.

But that will hit the industry twice as hard, as when we recover there will be a shortage on skills and we are already below capacity.”

Migrant workers may not be returning home as quickly as the industry thinks. More than 40 per cent of respondents said they had not noticed a reduction in their numbers, a third said they had and 23 per cent said they didn’t know.


More than a third of respondents’ firms employ apprentices, 44 per cent do not and 11 per cent said that their firm was cutting back due to poor economic conditions.

And of those firms which do hire apprentices, 30 per cent said numbers had been reduced.

More than three quarters felt that apprenticeships should be mandatory on public projects but a third of people said craft and tradespeople were difficult to hire.

NG Bailey runs its own academy for training apprentices. Its head of resourcing Joanne Mitchell, said: “One area where we do not have problems attracting candidates is for our craft apprenticeships, but unfortunately not everybody applying is of the required standard.

Part of the problem is that the careers advice currently being given seems to roll up the construction industry to one level.”

Just over 46 per cent of respondents were from companies with more than 500 people and 18 per cent were from firms with fewer than 20. Nearly two thirds of people were at management or director level.

The full report will be available at

Do you think there is a skills shortage in the construction industry?

Don’t know5%

Does your company employ apprentices?

Usually - but not in the current economic climate11%
Don’t know8%

Has there been a reduction in the number of apprenticeships in your company this year?

Don’t Know31%

Do you think apprenticeships should be mandatory on public projects?

Don’t know7


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