Last year was a difficult one for the construction industry. The Office for National Statistics said that output dipped 0.7% in the second quarter of 2016, following a dip of 0.3% in the previous three months. And, in June alone, construction output was down by 0.9%.
Much of this was due to uncertainty during the run up to and following the EU Referendum. But, despite this, the year ended well – expanding at the fastest pace for nine months in December.
The ONS said that output rose by 1.8% between November and December – beating expectations. And, compared to the same period a year earlier, the construction sector was up by 0.6% – which, again, was higher than forecast.
Following the recovery at the end of the year – the sector is expected to grow this year. In the first quarter alone it has already risen by 0.2% and current business conditions are reaching the best level since the EU referendum. However, while the industry itself is doing well, it is facing a shortage of skilled workers.
There has already been talk from the beginning of this year of a ‘skills shortage’ –although this had been downgraded from a ‘skills crisis’ – this could mean bad news for the industry and hold back the expected growth. Companies all across the UK have reported these shortages, particularly in higher-skilled roles.
In a new survey of the industry by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, more than half of respondents cited a shortage of quality workers as a key impediment to growth.
Despite this shortage firms reported an increase in workloads in the first quarter, from 18% to 27% as projects that were put on hold after the Brexit vote, have restarted. In response to the survey, Jeff Matsu, Rics senior economist, said: “The survey does highlight some key challenges that need to be addressed if government’s ambitious plans for housing and infrastructure, in particular, are to be met. Access to finance, alongside planning and skill shortages, both quality and quantity, remain big obstacles to delivery and though some plans are in place to address these issues, it remains to be seen whether they are sufficient to make a meaningful impact.”
But, why the shortage? This industry generates £90 billion annually and employs in excess of 2.93 million people but many construction workers are retiring and this rate of retirement looks set to increase as 22% of the workforce are over 50 and 15% in their 60s.
So, with business conditions reaching their best levels since the EU Referendum but a lack of skilled workers, whether you are looking to get into the construction industry, or are already in it and would like to take the next step in your career, now is the perfect time to do it. Take a look at the NES Global Talent job board where you will find positions from Quantity Surveyor to Site Manager – right here in the UK and across the world in Australia.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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