Between July and September this year, the number of vacancies in construction soared to around 43,000 *. That’s double the amount of unfilled jobs the sector saw this time last year and the highest level ever recorded in the 20 years since the data was first collected back in 2001!

To put this into the context of everything else that’s going on right now, during roughly the same period, construction wages rose by 9.7%; construction output slipped to 3.7% below pre-pandemic levels; the cost of building materials increased by 23.5% (compared to the previous year); and, as we mentioned in last week’s blog, energy costs have soared.

All of this might seem to be cause for concern as we head into the winter.

However, while there’s no doubt that labour shortages have been a major problem for the sector over the last year and that this summer has seen a significant imbalance between labour supply and demand, some industry and recruitment experts believe things may be about to change.

Looking at how the picture is unfolding this October, Darin Burrows, Director at recruitment agency City Site Solutions, said:

“Demand is still high, however much more in line with expectations for the time of the year, possibly also due to the end of the grant payments, but we suspect more due to many EU workers returning from holiday.”

Managing Director of Hudson Contracts, Ian Anfield, also pointed to the end of grants (specifically the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) as a factor that could potentially ease the labour shortage problem.  Welcoming the end of the scheme, he claimed the grants had effectively “incentivised people to stay at home” when in fact “the industry was booming and they were desperately needed.”

Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association was optimistic for different reasons, commenting:

“Vacancies in the construction industry being at an all-time high is a natural reflection of the economy bouncing back from the pandemic and a substantial pipeline of planned investment.”

Like many other companies, Sheriff Construction has had to work through this summer without a full labour force and, while that’s often the case due to holidays, this year’s shortages have at times been particularly noticeable.

Right now, we have vacancies for two handymen at our site in New Malden. Contact us for more details.

The news that it may become easier to recruit to construction vacancies like these is welcome but, given the fact that our industry has been talking about labour shortages for years, there’s probably a lot more to be done around longer-term solutions like the recruitment of young people into the sector before things really change.

One thing we’re about to do to help with this is signing Sheriff up to Worktree. This is an online platform where members of our team can be part of virtual career and Q&A sessions for pupils in schools and colleges. Look out for more on this in a future blog!

Meanwhile, we’re always interested in hearing from people who would like to work with us so, if that’s you, do get in touch via


Feature image: Pixabay

*Office for National Statistics