Brian Berry from Federation of Master Builders Discusses brick and bricklayer shortages on BBC Radio 5 Live
The Federation of Master Builders have been vocal over the last couple of years about the shortages of bricks and the skills shortages which have lead to some bricklayers being able to earn up to £1,000 a week in London. Today their Chief Executive appeared on BBC Radio Five Live to discuss the issues in more detail, in the context of how a future government will be able to fulfill their pledges to build more homes.
Discussing the houseing crisis and the skills shortages Berry said:
“How to solve the housing crisis has been one of the hot topics during this General Election campaign and we welcome the renewed focus on house building by all the main parties. Although each party has its own distinct plans for how the next Government should boost house building, all of them agree it must be a priority. However, the results of our latest State of Trade Survey expose continuing threats which could undermine their plans.”
Berry continued: “Half of all construction SMEs – that’s one in two firms – are finding it difficult to recruit bricklayers. 62% of firms are waiting for up to two months for new brick orders while almost one quarter are waiting for up to four months. An additional 16% are waiting for a staggering six to eight months. The brick manufacturers are working hard to reignite their kilns which were mothballed during the recession. However, in the meantime, let’s make sure small local house builders are not overlooked in favour of large house builders when it comes to manufacturers meeting requests for new bricks.”
Berry concluded: “In terms of skills, the ever-growing lack of bricklayers is causing concern. Compared to this time one year ago, more than twice the firms are reporting difficulties recruiting these tradespeople. In the short term, many SME house builders may have to rely on migrant labour. To ensure we have an ample supply of skilled workers in the future, the next Government must ensure it sets the right framework in terms of apprenticeship funding and apprenticeship standards. Also more construction firms – large and small – need to willingly engage with training. After all, there’s strong evidence to suggest that training apprentices is good for business.”