Construction skills shortage: how will the industry cope with a rise in new housing developments?
Despite the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on the economy, the UK housing market and construction industry are continuing to enjoy a boom phase. In November 2020, construction book orders rose at the fastest pace since 2014, with housebuilding the strongest sector in the industry.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has also seen job cuts taking place, despite the increase in demand, and the headcount for construction workers is lower than that of pre-pandemic times.
With demand up and a skill shortage increasing, how will the industry cope?
Construction firms must be prepared
Almost 70% of construction businesses had to cease operations during the peak of the pandemic, due to cancelled and postponed projects, UK government restrictions, or to minimise health and safety risks.
Many of these firms are not preparing for a swift return to pre-COVID levels of work, but this lack of preparation could cause issues down the line. To cope with the increased demand, construction firms must prepare staff for increased workloads and ensure their safety on-site so that projects can be completed on time.
Will the upward trend continue?
Many firms may be reluctant to create more jobs, take on employees, and increase the size of their workforce due to the unpredictability of the pandemic. Will the increase in housing demand even continue?
By the looks of things, yes – at least for the coming months. With working from home measures likely to continue even after the pandemic, the hunt for a new home with great office space is becoming more and more sought after. Plus, with the stamp duty holiday ending in March 2021, many buyers will be rushing to purchase a new property before that deadline.
Additionally, with money that is usually spent on holidays, shopping, and dining out having been put into savings pots this year, higher public spending is expected for the end of the pandemic, leading to strong growth.
PPE is the answer
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), both for construction safety and protection against COVID-19, is essential in ensuring a smooth transition back towards, and even greater than, pre-pandemic levels of activity. This helps to minimise staff absences and improve efficiency, which is needed to keep up the pace of the booming housing market.