Where have all the brickies gone?
By Simon Hacker | 4th September 2023
If Britain is to meet its home-building targets, it's going to take a lot more brickies to get the job done - more than 30,000 to be precise.
That's the verdict from Home Builders Federation (HBF), which is estimating a shortfall of 2,500 skilled bricklayers now needed nationally for every 10,000 homes if the government is going to meet its declared target to build 300,000 homes every year by 2025.
As a reflection of this concern, the Home Office moved in July to extend the Shortage Occupation List, which lists roles seen to be in short supply, and allow more bricklayers, tilers and roofers access to UK work visas.
Construction has been hit by a shortfall of tens of thousands of migrant workers who, post-Brexit and the Pandemic, have failed to return to the UK marketplace.
With only 42,000 bricklayers in home building currently, the HBF says an extra 33,000 are now needed.
As an incentive, the average salary of bricklayers in the UK is now estimated at £37,500, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), although in March, it was reported by the Daily Mail and Sun that some bricklayers were commanding more than £125,000 a year as desperate site managers struggle to find skilled labourers who can provide the crucial skills for fulfilling existing projects.
The CITB has identified bricklayers as the second biggest recruitment headache for the building industry (ust behind groundworkers), and it has warned that not only does construction need more bricklayers, but they need to be well trained.
A spokesman said: "Poor brickwork has remained the top issue on new-build inspection reports for the past 10 years. The CSN has forecast a need for 1,450 more bricklayers a year over the next five years.
● In the South West region, the CITB recently surveyed that 7,000 brickies would be needed by 2027. In July, Punchline reported that leading UK brickmaker Forterra was looking at redundancy plans and had mothballed its Howley Park brickworks, in Dewsbury, in the face of a drop in revenue and profits.
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