Construction worker wearing a hi-viz jacket and hard hat, working on a tower ladder

Is it a good time to enter the construction industry?

A shortage of qualified tradespeople has been an issue within the construction industry for years now, and the ongoing demand for services across the sector suggests that the trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

Those existing shortages have also been amplified by Brexit, which has created even bigger gaps in a workforce already faced with overwhelming demand.

This creates a unique environment for those working in the industry, one that offers a rare mix of high earning potential, strong job security and good progression opportunities—a priceless combination of factors, particularly in a post-pandemic world riddled with uncertainty.

Favourable wages for those entering the industry

Unsurprisingly, the skyrocketing demand means that tradespeople who do hold the relevant qualifications and experience are left in an incredibly strong position.

In fact, recent findings from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that in the period from January to March, the average total pay in the construction industry—including bonuses—had risen by 7%, making it one of the few industries to have kept pace with the rising cost of living, which also hit 7% in March. 

ONS data also showed that construction firms were paying out record bonuses in an attempt to retain skilled workers. Official figures revealed that employees were paid an average of £89 per week in ‘non-seasonally adjusted bonuses’ in March 2022, compared with £49 for the same month a year earlier—an 82% year-on-year rise. 

Self-employed earnings on the up

The prospect of setting up a business and working for yourself is no doubt one of the most tempting parts of a career in construction, now more so than ever. 

Those who have opted for this route have also been able to capitalise on the demand, and recent data from employment services provider Hudson Contract (via Construction Enquirer) shows that self-employed workers in London, the South East and the East Midlands were averaging four-figure salaries throughout March—this growth made that bit more notable with March traditionally being a quiet month due to weather restrictions. 

In London, the average self-employed weekly salary hit £1027, while workers operating in the South East reached £1,005. Outside of the south, the East Midlands average was as high as £1,070, with Yorkshire and Humber just short of the £1k mark at £936, though that figure did mark a substantial 9% year-on-year increase. 

Vacancies remain high

The same ONS findings also highlighted that the number of construction job vacancies remained extremely high between February and April. An average of 49,000 unfilled positions meant the figure sat at a joint high for the industry in this period.

Again, these opportunities don’t appear to be fading soon. According to research by the Construction Skills Network (CSN), 216,800 new construction workers will be required by 2025 as the industry looks to surpass its levels of pre-pandemic output in the coming years. 

Factors like Brexit, a build-up of pre-pandemic work to complete and the workforce shortages that have existed for years have all contributed to the current and immediate need for qualified tradespeople. To put things simply, the construction industry is currently faced with staggering demand and not enough people to meet it, meaning if you had previously been thinking about a career in the trades, now could be a perfect time.