78% of contractors impacted by skills shortages

78% of contractors impacted by skills shortages

Latest ECIC survey highlights the problem of skills shortages in across the constrution sector.

A survey of over 350 contractors by ECIC, a specialist insurer for the contracting sector, has underlined the immense pressure the sector is under to fill skills shortages and the increasing reliance on sub-contractors to fill the gap. It also notes that industry initiatives to tackle the skills shortage and encourage young people to join the sector appear to be working. Amost a third of the contractors surveyed indicated the intend to take on more apprentices in the next year.

In its survey, ECIC found that 30% of contractors said their business has been quite seriously impacted by skills shortages. 44% have been marginally impacted in some way and 4% severely impacted. 25% of respondents indicated they are going to use more labour only sub-contractors in the next year, and 31% will use more bona fide sub-contractors. 32% of the contractors surveyed plan to take on more apprentices in the next year.

Richard Forrest Smith, CEO of ECIC said: “It’s no secret that the contracting sector, including the UK’s engineering services sector which is our key focus at ECIC, is facing a serious skills shortage which is increasing dependence on subcontractors. This is underlined in the findings of a recent survey by ECIC’s parent, the ECA, which showed that labour costs had increased for five in 10 engineering services contractors. Greater use of subcontractors can make the task of managing health and safety on site much more complex so it is important main contractors understand their responsibilities, not just to subcontractors but to the apprentices they employ too.”

Richard Forrest Smith concluded: “It’s vital main contractors create an embedded approach to health and safety amongst the entire workforce, from apprentices through to highly skilled subcontractors. The alternative is greater risk of accidents on site, leading potentially to liability claims, prosecutions, heavy fines and even possibly a jail sentence.

“On a more positive note, the plans to take on more apprentices is welcome news.  Our parent, the ECA, has campaigned for quality engineering and technical apprenticeships and is working with partners within TESP – The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership – on a career progression project intended to upskill existing workers within the industry. Our findings suggest these efforts are starting to reap rewards.”


The survey was undertaken with Construction Enquirer, March 2017, completed by 357 Contractors

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