Construction jobs of the future? Recruitment trends over ten years


Non-construction jobs are on track to be the biggest market for industry recruiters over the next four years – having seen consistent growth since 2016.  

Technical, IT and office-based professionals will vastly outnumber their construction worker counterparts by 2027, a recent report suggests.  

Data gathering company, Statista, has forecast how many workers will be required in the UK construction industry in the next four years, by occupation. 

Drawing from industry reports and academic publications, it also reveals how the number of people performing various job types fluctuated between 2016 and 2022, offering a wider industry view of professional trends. The industry employed approximately 2.66 million people last year. 

Labour availability is now the “most concerning risk factor” within the construction sector, according to cost management consultant, Currie & Brown. Indeed, the skills shortage now poses a bigger threat to the industry than materials costs.  

An estimated 225,000 extra construction workers are needed in the UK by 2027, according to the Construction Skills Network. However, repercussions from Brexit have contributed to a shortfall of 330,000 people in the UK labour force.  

Leading recruiter and GVR Solutions founder, Geoff Vincent, recently told Construction Wave jobs abound in the sector, but there simply isn’t the candidates coming forward to fill them. Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers, Estimators, Design experts, Bricklayers and Electricians – these professions and others are in high demand, and yet the supply isn’t there.  

Statista’s findings reveal wood trades and fit-out jobs saw the highest employment figures between 2016 and 2022, second only to non-construction roles. This trend is also likely to continue to 2027. 

Other interesting results showed sharp fluctuations in the number of labourers active between 2016 and 2022, and a concerning downward trend in the number of painters and decorators during the same period, and continuing to 2027. Civil engineers saw the lowest employment figures overall.  

But it was office, IT and technical roles which have been, and appear to be, a growth market and could inform business leaders about how best to shore up workplace personnel.  

Occupational trends between 2016 – 2022 

Wood trades and fit-out jobs declined from 273,000 in 2016 to 242,000 in 2022. 

Managerial roles rose sharply from 195,000 in 2016 to 210,000 in 2018, before dropping to 198,000 in 2022. 

Senior and executive roles have risen steadily from around 175,000 in 2016 to 184,000 in 2022, though they peaked at 195,000 in 2020. 

Electrical trades rose sharply from 183,000 in 2016 to 197,000 in 2018, before steadily dropping to 186,000 by 2022. 

Plumbers rose to 168,000 in 2018 from 161,000 in 2016. They peaked at nearly 170,000 in 2020, before falling to 160,000 in 2022. 

Labourers jumped to 134,000 in 2018 from 123,000 in 2016, before dropping sharply to 117,000 in 2021 and then 118,000 last year. 

Building envelope specialists gradually fell off between 2016 and 2022, from 106,000 to less than 92,000. 

Painters and decorators also fell during the same period, from 114,000 to less than 94,000. 

Surveyors wavered between 70,000 and just under 75,000 between 2016 and 2022. 

While bricklayers held relatively steady at between 72,000 and 74,000. 

Civil engineers peaked at 59,000 last year, rising from just under 55,000 in 2016. 

While non-construction (IT, technical, office) roles rose consistently from 368,000 in 2016 to 408,000 in 2022.  

Occupation forecast for 2027  

Wood trades: 232,000 (242,000 in 2022) 

Managerial roles: 202,000 (198,000 in 2022) 

Senior and executive roles: 185,000 (184,000 in 2022) 

Electrical trades: 183,000 (186,000 in 2022) 

Plumbers: 154,000 (160,000 in 2022) 

Labourers: 118,000 (118,000 in 2022) 

Building envelope specialists: 94,000 (92,000 in 2022) 

Painters and decorators: 89,000 (94,000 in 2022) 

Surveyors: 78,000 (75,000 in 2022) 

Bricklayers: 71,000 (72,000 in 2022) 

Civil engineers: 62,000 (59,000 in 2022) 

Non-construction (IT, technical office): 413,000 (408,000 in 2022) 

“Wood trades were estimated to be one of the occupations in the construction industry in the United Kingdom with most workers in 2022. Nevertheless, there were even more people employed as non-construction professionals, technical, IT and other office-based staff. The industry employed approximately 2.66 million people in 2022 according to estimates,” said Statista. 

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