Migration and Construction:
The view from employers, recruiters and non-UK workers in 2018


The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have published a new research report exploring the current and future roles of migrant workers in the UK construction industry.

A total of 244 non-UK workers, 400 employers and 50 recruitment agents were involved in the research, with data collected via questionnaires, in-depth interviews and a round table discussion. Figures from the latest Labour Force Survey (LFS, 2017) were also included in the CITB’s report.


Key findings include: –

  • According to the LFS, in 2017 the UK construction industry comprised just over 2.25 million workers, aged between 16 and 64. This is an increase of 7.1% (150 000 workers) since 2015.
  • Of these, 333 700 workers (14.5%) were born outside the UK (an increase of around 63 000 workers since 2015), with just over half (51%) born in EU Accession countries (169 300 workers).
  • The concentration of migrant construction workers was highest in London, with around half (52%) of the workforce born outside the UK.
  • Workers from Romania were the largest national group working in the UK construction industry in 2017, with around 63 600 workers. This figure has more than doubled since 2015 (around 27 000 workers).
  • Workers from Poland were the second largest national group in 2017 (having previously been first) with around 57 500 workers, followed by workers from India (18 400 workers), Lithuania (16 700 workers) and Bulgaria (15 200 workers).
  • Migrant construction workers were predominantly younger than UK-born workers in 2017, with 83% of those born outside the UK being aged between 25 and 49 years old compared with 57% of those born in the UK. Conversely, UK-born workers were more likely to be aged 50 or over (32%) in comparison with migrant workers (11%).
  • More than half (55%) of migrant construction workers were self-employed in 2017, compared with 36% of those born in the UK.
  • Of the 400 employers who participated in the CITB’s research, 37% reported employing non-UK construction workers. Of these, 25% employed at least one migrant worker directly, whilst another 25% employed at least one migrant worker indirectly, either via a recruitment agency or on a self-employed basis.
  • Almost half of these employers (46%) reported employing non-UK workers because they helped to make up for skills shortages in the UK construction industry. Similarly, migrant workers were reported to be employed as a result of their availability (43% of employers) or their good work ethic (17% of employers).
  • Of the 244 non-UK workers who participated in the CITB’s study, just over half (56%) reported that their first ever construction job was in the UK.
  • In terms of job roles, 20% of migrant construction workers reported being general labourers in 2018 (compared with 12% in 2017), whilst 15% reported being carpenters or joiners, 6% reported being plumbers and 6% stated they were site supervisors.
  • Other reported roles were plasterer (5%), multi-trade (5%), project manager (3%), electrician (2%) and bricklayer (2%).

For further details, please visit the CITB website to read the full report….