Improving the human capital basis of the European construction industry

The European Construction Sector Observatory (ECSO) of the European Commission has published an Analytical Report in March 2020 that provides an important insight into workforce and skills in European construction industry.

ECSO has published in March 2020 the latest version of the Analytical Report “Improving the human capital basis”, which completes and updates the 2017 version. This document provides insights and lessons learnt related to the workforce in the construction sector in Europe. The data collection for the present report was performed before January 2020, so it does not include the most relevant milestones of recent times at the continent level: Brexit and COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The European demographic changes are influenced, not only by internal changes in the structure of population, but also by increasing migration and mobility trends. In this sense, declared migration and mobility movements across the EU accounted for an inflow between 2 and 4.5 million individuals per year (including both extra and intra community movements). This constitutes strong human capital and a possibility to increase the workforce in the sector.

EU’s working-age population is expected to decline each year until 2060. This is particularly the case in Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Croatia and Romania, in which working-age populations are expected to experience the sharpest declines in the coming decades across the EU, partly driven also by mobility of their workforce within the EU. On the other side of the spectrum, Luxembourg, Malta, Sweden and Cyprus’ working-age populations are expected to grow in the years to come.

The sum of persons employed in the construction sector in Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain accounted for 61.5% of the total workforce of the EU construction sector in 2017.

Across the EU, according with the ECSO report the top three construction-related occupations in 2017 were:

  1. Construction workers.
  2. Science and engineering technicians.
  3. Electro engineering workers.

At the same time, a growing share of high-tech occupations was recorded across the EU in 2018. It is estimated that, by 2030, the employment in the EU construction sector will increase by 4.3%. This growth, however, will vary across EU Member States (MS). While Romania, Estonia, Germany and Latvia construction sectors are expected to experience a decrease in terms of employment by 2030, it is in France, Malta, Ireland and Cyprus that such a decrease will be most significant. At this point, from Construction Blueprint we aim to encourage the digitalization and sustainability of the sector at a European level, through promotion professional skills of the workers and the improvement of their abilities.

According to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), about one million new and replacement workers will be needed by 2025. Additionally, the skills needed in construction are likely to change to meet the demands for “green” and energy-efficient buildings.

If you want to know more about the current construction sector in Europe, download the complete report.