Concrete solutions? Recruitment difficulties and casualisation in the UK construction industry
Abstract There has been long-standing interest in issues around the nature of employment in construction. Historically, high levels of contingent labour use in the sector, including the use of subcontractors, agency workers and self-employed workers, have led to debate over the linkages between casualisation and labour reproduction. Recent skills shortages and recruitment difficulties in the sector have intensified this debate further. This chapter examines the relationship between recruitment difficulties, the use of contingent labour and skills reproduction in the construction sector. Drawing on results from an original survey of construction employers conducted in 2002, the chapter examines recruitment difficulties among construction employers, their responses to these difficulties and their use of contingent labour. The chapter also examines the relationship between contingent labour and training. The results of the survey point to overall labour shortages in the construction sector, regardless of contract type, and suggest that further casualisation of the employment relationship and the increased use of contingent labour in the UK construction industry offer no long-term solution to labour and skills shortages in the sector.