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Polish Construction Grapples with Growing Worker Shortage

REAL ESTATEPolish Construction Grapples with Growing Worker Shortage

Compared to the end of 2023, the construction industry started the year in relatively good spirits. In January 2024, the overall business climate index was minus 7.1, compared to minus 13.2 (CSO) in December 2023. Nearly half of the companies reporting barriers to conducting business complain about a lack of skilled workers. According to the analysis of Progres Group, this problem will be increasingly felt month by month, as there is a lack of candidates with the appropriate qualifications, and soon construction will be in full swing. Demand exceeds labour supply for as many as 12 professions sought in construction.

In our country, nearly half a million people are employed in the construction industry – in 2023 there were a total of 422.4 thousand (CSO). Only the industrial processing (2,374 million) and trade (1,324 million) employed more. This number could increase, but recruitment problems hinder it. The deficit occupations for which it will be difficult to find candidates this year include joiners and construction joiners, roofing fitters and construction sheet metal workers, machine operators, electricians, electromechanics and electricians, heavy truck and semitrailer drivers, construction installation fitters, bricklayers and plasterers, earthworks equipment operators and mechanics, construction finishing workers, construction workers, welders and locksmiths.

“Even though some construction company directors foresee cutting employment, there will still be many job offers. The problem will be with the candidates, as it tended to be hard to find them in previous years,” says Natalia Myskova, Director of International Recruitment at Progres Group. “It is even more difficult considering the nature of the work, which requires good health, physical condition and strength. This severely limits the pool of people considered in the recruitment process, usually to one sex and a certain age, i.e., adult males. Before 2022, people from the East who filled the majority of vacancies and saved many construction companies from stagnation used to take up construction work. However, the situation changed dramatically after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which drastically reduced the number of men available on the Polish market, significantly reducing the number of candidates and largely preventing the filling of all vacant positions in the construction industry,” adds Natalia Myskova.

According to CSO data, the average monthly salary in the construction sector in 2023 was PLN 7,021.89 gross, an amount that is currently insufficient for many prospective employees, especially if they possess the qualifications required in the job advertisement. Currently, rates have increased a bit, but still not enough to attract a large group of interested parties.

“Putting together a team for the construction sector is a major challenge for recruiters. Fortunately, more and more companies are starting to understand that without workers from other countries, and even continents, their projects will not be realised. Foreigners – mainly men – are increasingly being recruited for construction work. They often agree to the offered rates in exchange for skills-enhancing training or a raise after the trial period. Their eagerness to work and openness to compromise saves many Polish constructions from stagnation,” stresses Natalia Myskova, Director of International Recruitment at Progres Group.

Without increasing the number of foreigners in the Polish labour market, many investments will have to be waited for. According to CSO data, the average process of constructing a new multi-family residential building is getting longer. In 2022, it totalled 42.5 months (counted from the date of its commencement to the date of handing over the building for use), extending by 1.5 months when compared to the same period in 2021.

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