Remote work worsens NI skills shortage, warns RICS


Skilled construction workers in Northern Ireland who are “logging on” to work remotely for companies based elsewhere in the UK are exacerbating the acute shortage of workers in the country, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned.

The body’s NI infrastructure and building monitor for the fourth quarter of 2021, published with law firm Tughans, showed that more than three-quarters of respondents in Northern Ireland said they were experiencing a shortage quantity surveyors, which was higher than anywhere else in the UK.

RICS NI construction spokesman Jim Sammon warned that higher wages in other parts of the UK had effectively attracted many professionals such as quantity surveyors to work for other companies while living in Northern Ireland.

He said: “There is clearly a less optimistic tone to the comments from Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK. Concerns about labor and, in particular, skilled labor simply do not go away and seem to be even more acute here than elsewhere. It is of serious concern that NI investigators are less optimistic about the year ahead than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

“The reality is that with the new ability to work from home, many construction professionals can find better paying jobs outside of NI while living in a low cost of living environment here. This is a new and exciting development for the sector.

The report also found that 71% of respondents reported a shortage of masons and 63% reported a shortage of other construction professionals.

In terms of workloads, NI has also been left behind compared to other UK counterparts.

A -13% net balance of NI respondents was reported for workloads in Q4 2021. However, overall the UK saw workloads increase by 33% for the same period. Infrastructure workloads, which increased everywhere else, fell in Northern Ireland. Social housing was the only sub-sector to experience an upward trend in the country.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics released last week, annual construction output in the UK rose 12.7% in 2021, driven by new infrastructure work. Construction vacancies from November to January 2022 fell to a five-month low with 38,000 vacancies in the industry.


Comments are closed.