29,000 Job Vacancies for Construction Workers, Pre-Pandemic Level
Data from the Office of Statistics showed Construction vacancies jumped 25% in the last quarter of 2020 with 28,000 vacancies matching pre-pandemic levels of 29,000 in March 2020 before the pandemic. The reason for this could be that number of EU workers has dropped and there is some difficulty filling the places however there are schemes in the UK to encourage workers to fill vacancies, such as the not-for-profit Construction Talent Retention Scheme funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy facilitated by Construction Leadership Council which allows skilled workers to apply for jobs via a portal. 400 workers have signed up to the programme and names such as EDF, Balfour Beatty and Travis Perkins have adopted it.
However, COVID has caused the number of new homes being registered in 2020 to drop by 23% according to the National Housebuilding Council with 123k being registered compared to 160k in 2019. Cities fared worse than regional areas however recovery in the Q4 2020 saw registrations down 2% on the same period in 2019.
Industry-wide unemployment hit 5% in December 2020, the highest level since 2016.
GF Tomlinson Birmingham Contractor Appointed to NHS Framework
GF Tomlinson along with 40 other contractors has been awarded to deliver projects up to £5m in the CCS NHS Shared Business Services PS-Works: Public Sector Construction Works Framework, a procurement programme across Yorkshire, East Midlands, West Midlands and North Lincolnshire for healthcare, education, housing, social care, leisure, libraries, blue light, transport, recycling and waste, industrial and commercial facilities, as well as mixed use regeneration sectors. Crown Commercial Service upcoming contracts can be found here.
Vaccine Gaining Pace but Vigilance Still Necessary
Contractors might be tempted to relax vigilance with the rollout of the vaccine however CIBSE has encouraged maintaining caution regarding physical measures to manage the virus such as ventilation & social distancing onsite. Bupa is offering an antibody test to determine whether someone who has had the virus has antibodies which may translate to immunity, you can book here.
beable Saves Construction from COVID
Luckily, technology exists so Construction sites can stay open and take care of their workers with beable® Wearable which has been deployed at pilot stage at a large north London site to keep workers safe and productive; it facilitates physical distancing as well as interaction tracking. Co-developed by Electronic Media Services and COMIT Projects and funded by Innovate UK, the new technology has been well received and plans to rollout to further sites in Q2 this year are underway.Click here to find out more
The Impact of Brexit on Construction
47% of Construction industry decision makers are positive about the future and planning for recovery, up 30% from March last year. The latest lockdown has luckily not affected Construction firms and the Government has provided a number of support schemes for the sector. The Construction sector, which generally doesn’t deal as much in the EU as other sectors, seems to be mostly positive towards the Brexit deal with disruptions in loss of EU workers and some building materials being the main concerns which should ease in time given new schemes and settling of trade routes. You can view the Government guidance for Construction here.