In demand bricklayers are commanding salaries of £60,000 as small building firms continue to struggle with the growing skills shortage, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
In its State of Trade Survey for the first quarter of the year, the FMB found more than half of the small construction firms questioned said they believe salaries will increase over the next six months.
And while the survey found it was good news for the wallets of bricklayers with wages soaring to £60,000 per year in London, and around £45,000 annually in the north of England, 55 per cent of respondents said they are having difficulties in hiring the trade.
The study, which also found that output prices, wages and material costs are all likely to rise in the next two quarters, reported that in the three months to March 2016, SME workloads continued to experience rising activity as more firms reported higher workloads.
Businesses are also expecting an increase in activity levels in the next quarter with the number of respondents predicting higher workloads rising from 22 per cent to 38 per cent.
More than half of respondents (53 per cent) also expect wages and salaries to increase this year.
Commenting on the results, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “More than half of small construction firms are predicting that wages and salaries will increase over the coming six months.
“Given that brickies are already able to command wages of up to £60,000 per year in London and around £45,000 a year in the North of England, it’s clear that the skills squeeze is starting to push up costs for construction SMEs.
“A whopping 55 per cent of small building firms are currently reporting difficulties hiring bricklayers, which makes these tradespeople the most in-demand of all construction workers. This particular skills shortage is of course linked to the steady growth in private house building.”
Berry added: “The results for the first three months of this year show consistent growth among small construction firms in almost all parts of the UK.
“What’s more, despite evidence of the EU referendum causing some uncertainty within the business community, more than two-thirds of firms expect their workloads to increase over the coming three months.
“These results are heartening but skills shortages, and the knock-on effect on wages and salaries, remains a major cause for concern,” said Berry.
“We need tens of thousands of new and returning construction workers to pick up the slack, or this growth among construction SMEs could so easily unravel.
“The Government is hoping to address the skills shortages through the new Apprenticeship Levy, which is due to come into force in exactly one year.
“However, I have spoken to many small construction bosses who have major concerns about the impact that the new funding arrangements, which will come into effect alongside the levy, will have on their ability to hire an apprentice.
“The Government must work closely with the construction industry to ensure its new system is as easy to use as possible, or else we could see apprenticeship training by small firms nose dive at exactly the wrong time.”