Real Estate & Construction 2021 Review: Record industry jobs with Kier Group dominating UK hiring

Feb 2, 2022 | News, Real Estate

  • Real estate & construction jobs up 107% year-on year, with peak in July 2021
  • Kier Group records most vacancies as hiring levels surge fastest at Jacobs
  • Jobs in facilities management grew quickest as people returned to offices
  • London accounts for 20% of UK hiring, jobs in Yorkshire & Humber race ahead

New vacancies in the UK’s real estate and construction industry reached all-time highs in 2021, reflecting the frantic activity experienced by a resurgent and emboldened property market, new data shows.

According to a 2021 annual labour market report by data analytics firm Vacancysoft, professional recruitment in real estate and construction rose by 107% year-on-year (up 42.4% compared to 2019) — following a 2020 when hiring levels fell by 31.3% year-on-year.

Vacancies hit peak levels in July 2021, with real estate and construction firms publishing nearly 6,000 new vacancies — a 181.6% rise compared to the same month in 2020, and 49.6% up in relation to July 2019. The largest month-on-month increase in 2021 was in February when professional recruitment jumped by 47.1%.

James Chaplin, CEO of Vacancysoft, said:  “ The labour market in real estate and construction has been one of the UK’s fastest growing in 2021. A major element of this was government incentives, such as the stamp duty holiday, which enticed people to buy property. This, and the fact there was demand for bigger properties as more people worked from home, kept the market moving as other parts of the economy struggled.

“Meanwhile, UK builders experienced a sharp increase in business towards the end of 2021, as supply chain disruptions and pricing pressures eased, with strong growth in office and other commercial construction. Over the next year, however, materials and labour shortages look likely to cause the industry some problems.”

Kier Group records most vacancies as hiring levels surge fastest at Jacobs

The leading recruiter in UK real estate and construction is Kier Group, where vacancies are up 93% year-on-year. Jacobs experienced the largest surge in new jobs, with 555% more vacancies in 2021 compared to a year earlier. The smallest increase in new vacancies was at Skanska, which recorded a 12.4% year-on-year rise.

Top firms, professional real estate & construction vacancies, UK (see Top 20 here)







Kier Group










Balfour Beatty




















Jobs in facilities management grew quickest as people slowly returned to offices

Across industry-specific jobs, property sales was the single largest area in 2021, the 12,000 new vacancies representing 72.3% year-on-year growth. Jobs in facilities management saw the largest year-on-year increase (277.3%) with the gradual return to offices playing a key role. At 47.3% year-on-year, property management roles, inversely, experienced the smallest growth. 

Out of all general non-industry professions, vacancies for IT professionals (2,600 new jobs, 115% year-on-year) represented the largest group, followed by recruitment for HR professionals (2,100 new jobs, 131.9% year-on-year). Demand for procurement specialists was the fastest growing (162.8% year-on-year), while roles in finance experienced sluggish growth, with new jobs up 67% year-on-year.

London accounts for 20% of UK hiring, jobs in Yorkshire & Humber race ahead

London remains the largest region for real estate vacancies, with new jobs in 2021 up by 77% year-on-year — the same rate of increase as in the South East. The 12,000+ vacancies in the capital represent nearly 20% of overall industry hiring in the UK, a share that has fallen by 2.2 percentage points since 2019. 

Yorkshire and the Humber is the fastest-growing region with an uplift of 186.3%, although it accounts for only 7.5% of overall vacancies. The second-largest region for new jobs in real estate and construction is the South East, accounting for 13.4%, while the smallest is the North East with 2.6%. 

  • The data for this article is taken from a 2021 labour market review of the UK real estate and construction sector produced by Vacancysoft. Read it here.

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