Strong house building to drive construction recovery

House building across the UK continued its revival towards the end of 2013 with the private sector leading the way.

However, the current increase in activity is being met with some shortages of both skills and materials, according to the latest RICS Construction Market Survey.

Despite the fact that the recovery in the construction industry is only just getting underway, skills shortages are already being identified as a constraint on activity. 36 per cent of respondents claim that labour shortages are restricting building. Skills shortages are increasing across all of the trades but bricklayers remain particularly scarce due to strong demand from the housing sector. A higher percentage of respondents are now reporting problems sourcing relevant skills than at any time since mid-2006.

During the final three months of the year, almost forty per cent of respondents also claimed that a scarcity of materials is limiting activity with surveyors noting that bricks and concrete blocks, in particular, are in short supply.

Significantly, infrastructure construction – a core priority of the government’s economic plan – is showing signs of picking up speed with the pace of growth increasing at its fastest rate in almost seven years (net balance 24 per cent).

The improving picture in the construction sector is also visible at a regional level with workloads rising for the second consecutive quarter in all parts of the country. Significantly, the stronger regional picture is evident in most segments of the construction industry.

Looking ahead, expectations for future construction activity were extremely upbeat with 74 per cent more chartered surveyors expecting workloads to increase rather than decrease during 2014. Furthermore, predictions for employment levels and company profits were also very positive, suggesting that the construction sector may at long last be beginning to prosper.

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