The need for large numbers of experienced workers on the massive Crossrail project in London is resulting in a skills vacuum in other parts of the country, according to recruiter Randstad CPE.
A countrywide analysis showed that not only does Crossrail attract international talent, its effect is felt across the UK. Over 40,000 individual construction and engineering placements were taken into account, including more than 150 different Crossrail-related job-titles.
The recruiter said more than a quarter (28.3 per cent) of those starting Crossrail-connected work in London are originally from areas more than 30 miles away from the new railway line.
Since the project began in 2009, workers have been recruited an average of 30.1 miles away from Crossrail-related jobs, a statistic which peaked at an average distance of 36.9 miles in 2011. This has fallen slightly since, but the average distance in 2015 is still 24.5 miles
The skills vacuum effect is partially attributed to annual earnings. Those working in Crossrail-related job titles have an average salary of £23,952, taking in all types of work including heavy engineering, rail, tunnelling and infrastructure projects and from labourers and steel fixers to experienced rail specialists and structural engineers.
When assessing the same range of Crossrail-related job titles outside of the London area, however, effective annual earnings only average £22,763.
Owen Goodhead, a managing director with Randstad 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 benefiting.
“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.”
In January, the government announced a £1.1m investment in major infrastructure projects to create 'job legacy' for engineers and close the UK skills gap.