Construction Activity Up But Skills Shortfall Still a Problem
The latest research into the construction industry from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has found that work levels are continuing to increase, but that there remains a significant shortfall in skilled labour, particularly in certain areas.
These recent figures showcase the state of the market for the fourth quarter of 2014. Amongst those who responded, 52% said that commercial work had increased during the period. This was the fourth quarter in a row that this level has been over 50%. Across the rest of the sector, 45% had seen levels of private housing work rise and 40% had had an increase in industrial activity, including premises with a metal stair case. For the sector overall, the level of growth was measured at 39%.
When asked what was restricting their growth, 60% of businesses who responded to the survey put the reasons down to lack of materials, skilled workers or finances. The lack of adequate labour across the sector has been an issue during this period of recovery. The number of businesses which cited this as an issue for growth was measured at 48%, which is a record high.
There is a particular need across the construction sector for quantity surveyors and bricklayers. This needs to be addressed to match the rising workloads. There also needs to be a reduction in financial restraints, as a lack of available funding can reduce a company’s ability to grow and take advantage of increasing opportunities. If it were easier for businesses to borrow the right amount of money, they would be in a better position to compete with other companies.
Even though there are still certain areas that are hampering growth, the general mood within the industry remains positive. 75% of businesses that took part in the most recent RICS survey think there will be an increase in work over the year. The anticipated rise in workloads is 3.4%. Just over half of the respondents (55%) also believe that employment levels will rise, with expected growth of 3% in 2015.
2015 will be an important year for the industry. It needs to create a plan for long-term growth in the sector. This should include new training initiatives, which will help to increase productivity levels even further and ensure that the industry is best placed to make the most of this positive environment.