Overall Construction Level Rises
The latest information from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has shown that across the second quarter of this year there was a rise in construction workloads across every sector and area of the UK. This is further positive news for the industry and emphasises that activity is continuing to push ahead.
44% more of the surveyors who were questioned for the research reported that activity levels were higher than previously seen. This compares to 37% in quarter one and has largely been boosted by the increase in private-house building and office construction. Just over half of the surveyors (51%) said that they'd seen higher activity levels across the private-housing sector, including detached homes which have iron railings for balcony additions and smaller starter properties. 58% of them also reported higher levels within the private commercial sector.
When surveyors were asked what the main restrictions on further growth were, regulatory and planning issues and financial concerns were the most common responses. 58% more of them reported difficulties in getting access to the right finance in quarter two. This is caused by banks scrutinising applications more closely and limiting the amount of money they will lend. With local authorities having to make cuts, there will be an inevitable negative effect on the planning system. This will lead to further delays, as applications are slower to process.
There were also problems securing enough materials for work, with 40% highlighting this issue. However, this figure has improved when compared with last year's results, when 60% reported having the same issues.
Shortage of Skills
Another recent survey which has been released by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has raised concerns that we are still seeing a shortage of skills in the construction industry. This has been especially prevalent amongst small to medium-sized businesses, with around 50% of SMEs in the construction industry running into problems around recruitment. Some of the areas where they are seeing specific problems in recruiting those with the right levels of skills and experience include bricklayers, joiners, carpenters, supervisors and site managers.
With workloads in the construction industry continuing to rise, the skills shortage will become more of an issue. If levels of growth are going to become even stronger, the industry needs to attract and retain those with the rights skill sets. Otherwise the growth figures will start to stagnate, and the sector will not benefit from the stronger economy.