Construction Employment Trends In The Uk

As a wise man once said (it was actually Lord Keynes, one of the two truly great economists of the last century) prediction is terribly difficult, most especially about the future. Trying to look forward more than a decade in such things as employment trends in a free market economy is virtually impossible, there are just too many things as variables that can affect the outcome.

However, it is possible to look at the various things which are those variables so here’s a short guide.

The first and most obvious is the macro-economic outlook. Sad to say but the construction industry is always at the mercy of the government: both interest rates and the general speed of growth of the economy make an enormous difference to employment levels in the industry. High interest rates or a drop in the rate of growth will have a disproportionate effect on the construction industry and thus upon employment in it.

The second is in the technological progress to greater pre-fabrication. The amount of labour that goes into construction these days is a mere fraction of what it was in times past (just think about building a cathedral with noting but hammer and chisel!) and we would expect that process to continue as technology advances. It’s entirely possible that the influx of East Europeans recently will slow down this process, by reducing immediate labour costs, but it’s likely that that will be an interruption rather than a halt to the process.

The third is the basic demographic outlook for the country. It’s not just the number of people around either. Yes, people are living longer, yes, we have net immigration, but that isn’t the real driver (or rather they contribute to it, don’t make all of it in total) to the demand for more housing. That’s the rate of household formation and even with a static population the decades long (actually centuries long) trend to ever smaller numbers of people in one unit is the largest contributor to the demand for more housing.

As above, forecasting is very difficult and quite how these three major factors, household size, the price of labour and technological progress and perhaps the most difficult, when will the rulers create a recession (yes, when, not if) will interact is perhaps unanswerable with any certainty. That’s in the long term. In the short term there is a much easier method, simply ask one of the recruitment experts at Talisman. They have their fingers on the pulse of the industry and can give you the short terms trends with great accuracy.

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