Brickies are earning £100k because of the building industry's 'brawn drain'

A shortage of skilled labourers has helped push pay packets for the country's top bricklayers past £100,000. Time for a call-out to Krakow...

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 13 Jul 2015

A shortage of brick layers, plasterers, joiners and stone-fixers has left building companies struggling to fill vacancies and has pushed up wages, recruitment experts have said.

The recent housing recovery and a pick-up in infrastructure projects across the country has led to a 125% jump in the number of workers needed since 2008.

But firms are struggling to fill the gap as many builders emigrated after the recession hit. Combined with a decline in apprenticeships, this has left the building sector facing a ‘serious shortage’ in workers, recruitment firm Deverell Smith and building consultants EC Harris told The Times.

The introduction of government schemes such as Help to Buy has aided the mortgage market and prompted builders to begin work on meeting needs for new homes. But both firms warned that while government policies to underpin the housing market were pushing the country to the ‘brink of the biggest building boom in its history,’ very little consideration had been given to the supply chain.

‘We have an ageing workforce with many skilled labourers retiring and simply not being replaced,’ Mark Farmer of EC Harris told The Times.

This means people at the top of their game can earn an annual salary of £100,000 a year, laying up to 1,000 bricks a day.

Meanwhile, the average self-employed bricklayer is earning £150-£200 a day, the equivalent of £40,000-£50,000 a year, and that figure is expected to rise this year.

Experienced site managers and project managers are also in short supply.

It’s thought Australia and New Zealand snapped up most of the workers who left the UK during the economic downturn.

So with UK bricklayers fleeing the country and the government doing everything in its power to reduce immigration, who's going to build those Help to Buy houses?

Quick: someone call Nigel Farage. He's bound to have the answer...

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