THOUSANDS of construction workers are needed in Scotland, according to new figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

Some 25,250 extra workers will be needed by 2026 to meet industry demand, which translates as an annual recruitment growth rate of 2.2%, or 5050 workers.

Demand is especially acute for electricians, labourers, construction professionals and technical staff.

The recruitment pressure is more severe in Scotland than in the rest of the UK and, with job vacancies already at a record high in an exceptionally tight labour market, construction vacancies are at double the level seen in 2019 and show little sign of easing.

The UK Government, amid the role that Brexit plays in hindering labour recruitment in general and construction workers specifically, launched the frontier worker permit scheme in December 2020 in the hope of alleviating the problem – but the permit’s restrictions, including the fact that frontier workers’ family members are not covered, seems to have had little impact.

According to the Home Office, 8597 visas were issued for the entire UK to frontier workers in the year to March 2022.

Consequently, the skilled worker visa application, a different process that applies to those with eligible occupations, was updated in February 2022 to include construction managers, electricians and associated construction tradespeople.

The construction purchasing managers’ index shows the weakest rate of construction output growth since January reflecting not only the scarcity of construction workers, but also the Brexit-associated shortages of HGV drivers and construction materials.

International shipping delays caused by customs duties and additional paperwork that is required under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement hampers delivery of materials, compounding lockdown supply-chain backlogs.

Top law firm Weightmans sees evidence that, to avoid additional administration, EU suppliers are supplying construction materials to their EU neighbours before exporting to the UK.

An additional Brexit-related recruitment snag is the weakness of sterling since the Brexit referendum, when it lost 16% of its value against the Euro and has never recovered, which makes the UK a less attractive place to work for EU citizens while making euro-denominated materials more expensive.