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Two thirds of small construction businesses have had to turn work down because of skills shortages, according to new research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) reported.

Close to half of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) polled by the trade body said they have also had to outsource work to third parties, in order to complete projects.

Bricklayers and carpenters remain in high demand, with London facing the biggest skills shortages in these areas.

After reaching out to its 8,500 SME members, the federation said a shortage of apprentices is causing problems in many regions.

The main reason why people are failing to join the industry is a lack of apprenticeships, according to the poll.

There also appears to be a mismatch between wage perceptions, and the actual rates of pay which young contractors can receive.

The FMB study shows that bricklayers aged 23 with five years of experience can potentially earn as much as £31,000 a year. The figure can even reach £52,000 in London, it said.

Despite this, it is feared that people aged between 16 and 24 feel they will receive low wages if they enter the construction industry.

The FMB has now reminded young people that the CITB website can offer them further information about construction apprenticeships.

Responding to the research, Steve Radley, Director of Policy and Strategy at CITB said “The shortage of skilled people is the biggest issue currently facing the construction industry. Recruiting apprentices is an important part of the solution, but so too is upskilling those already in the industry, as well as attracting those who have left to come back into the sector.

“Given the demand for new homes around the country, housebuilding is more critical than ever, and we are working with the FMB and homebuilders to boost skills across the supply chain. For example, homebuilders and other construction businesses can apply for up to £10,250 in CITB grant funding per apprentice to help them take on new talent.

“With GCSE results coming out tomorrow, I would also encourage young people to consider a career in the construction industry. A construction apprenticeship gives people the opportunity to earn a wage while they learn, and set themselves up for a fantastic career.”

www.citb.co.uk