New analysis reveals a dramatic reduction in Google searches for construction sector jobs across Poland, Romania and Bulgaria in 2017, with Romania seeing the largest drop according to new research by GK Strategy and onefourzero. If these trends continue, the UK construction sector is likely to face significant workforce shortages which could affect its ability to deliver new housing developments, argues the companies.
As people increasingly research potential employers online, Google search data is a sound early indicator of changing behaviour and provides insight into the shifting patterns of EU nationals searching for work in the UK. It suggests that decreasing interest among Eastern Europeans is driven by Brexit uncertainty, particularly among Romanians who currently make up half of the UK’s construction workforce.
A workforce shortage would hit densely populated areas like London and the South East, where the need for labour to build new homes is greatest. The construction sector is heavily reliant on migrants filling one in five vacancies. Romanian nationals make up more than half of the EU citizens in the UK housebuilding workforce.
Overall there was a 35% drop in people searching for UK jobs across the three countries, indicating increasing workforce shortages in the UK’s agricultural, hospitality and health and social sectors.
Robin Grainger, Group CEO of GK Strategy said: “Declining online interest indicates an emerging workforce shortage for Britain’s construction industry. In the short term construction businesses should work with government to protect that vital pipeline of workers from abroad.
“In the longer term they should push for the implementation of a new migration system which recognises the reliance of our construction businesses on talented overseas staff.”
Fleur Hicks, Managing Director of onefourzero, said: “We live in a digital age and online searches are a good early indicator of where people are looking to work. The bad news is that it is not clear if UK workers will step in to fill the vacancies as EU workers lose interest in coming to our shores.
“The data paints a clear picture of how Brexit continues to affect the desirability of the UK as a destination for work.”