According to new analysis, Crossrail’s demand for skilled workers is leaving many parts of the UK with shortages.
Crossrail, which has cost billions to build and will improve transport in the capital, is a fantastic feat of engineering. However, the impacts of such a vast project are being felt across the rest of the country.
The analysis shows the scale of the problem, revealing one in 20 Crossrail workers have relocated more than 100 miles to work on the project.
Randstad CPE analysed over 40,000 individual construction and engineering placements across the UK. This includes more than 150 different Crossrail-related jobs titles.
The firm found that more than half of this number have taken up Crossrail jobs 50 miles from their home address. Additionally, just under one in 20 Crossrail workers have moved 100 miles or more. Out of the total 14,000 estimated to have worked on Crossrail since May 2009, 4,000 workers have commuted or relocated more than 30 miles towards the London region. A total of 2,100 originally came from 50 miles away.
Managing Director of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering Owen Goodhead said: “Britain’s construction and engineering skills gap has been a dilemma for decades. But now it is biting.
“The infrastructure challenges of the 21st century make this an urgent issue. Crossrail is just one major project, and the effect is felt sharply across the UK.
“Employers want the right person for the right job – absolutely the correct approach – but this is unleashing a spiral of competition.
“Skills shortages are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and candidates looking for construction and engineering jobs are benefitting.
“At the start of the project in 2009, the draw of Crossrail was accentuated by the recession, and today it is one of the brightest symbols of recovery in the UK jobs market.
“The downside is in local areas at the other end of this skills vacuum.
“Crossrail will revolutionise the daily commute for thousands. But the people creating this engineering marvel have their own stories of relocation and long commutes – and their home towns will tell the story of a skills exodus.”
One of the main draws for the project is the money. Tunnelling engineers can earn £25,000 and Project Managers up to £51,000 per annum. By 2018, it is estimated the average Crossrail worker could have earnt an extra £10,701 just by moving to London.
Salary for those involved in work such as heavy engineering, rail, tunnelling, and infrastructure projects earn on average £23,952. For the same Crossrail-related job titles outside of the London area, earnings average £22,763. This means Crossrail workers have effectively earned an extra £1,189 per year by working on the project.
Average earnings are broken down as such:
– Senior Quantity Surveyor – £75,000
– Quantity Surveyor – £53,000
– Project Manager – £51,000
– Site Engineer – £34,000
– Assistant Quantity Surveyor – £33,000
– Site Project Manager – £30,000
– Tunnelling Engineer – £25,000
The analysis also showed that since 2009, workers have been recruited at an average distance of 30.1 miles. This peaked to 36.9 miles in 2011. So far in 2015, the distance averages 24.5 miles.
Goodhead continued: “Filling quantity surveyor jobs and project manager jobs can be a challenge for employers right across the UK. But London is the white-hot core – where the same job titles command an even greater premium. Especially for high-profile projects, employers are stumping up the cash to get the right skills.”
“All rail workers, tunnellers, automotive and structural engineers get a bonus for living in London – but those employed by Crossrail itself are likely to see even higher earnings again.
“Not only is Crossrail an iconic project for any CV, it has its own training and learning opportunities – and its own additional earnings premium, even in London.
“Crossrail will be winding down within the next two years, and ambitious skilled people may start to look to other regions. But for a decade one railway will have defined a huge portion of the jobs market.”
It is expected by 2018 the majority of recruits will have come from London, dominating the demand for almost a decade. Almost half (48 per cent) of Crossrail-competent placements handled by Randstad CPE since 2009 had been in the London area.
Goodhead said: “London and the South East are now powering the whole UK construction industry. Crossrail represents a particular crunch point for even scarcer skills – but the trend is now growing.
“Property prices around London provide a steady underpinning to returns from residential house building – while huge infrastructure projects like Crossrail, the Thames Tideway and soon HS2, all radiate out from the capital.
“But while all roads may lead to London, the rest of the UK still needs skilled engineers and construction workers. In a world where jobs are increasingly outnumbering the best candidates, employers need to up their game to find the right people for the job.
“As a country we need more people to start from scratch in construction and engineering – which means training. In particular, apprenticeships can be a huge part of the solution, invigorating the workforce with a fresh cohort of skilled people, and widening access to the very best jobs.
“This year we’ve launched the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy, giving school leavers work experience, mentorship and a chance to join the Williams Formula One team.
“But in every field, this country needs not just more Formula One engineers, but more rail engineers, electricians, quantity surveyors, project managers and bricklayers to come through these routes.
“In the meantime savvy job seekers should look for ways to train up, earn more – and fill the growing competence chasm across every nation, city and region of the UK.
“That may mean following the glittering allure of the capital, or branching out for adventure and a greater variety of life in other towns and cities.”