Skills shortage concerns reach highest level since 2008

Skills shortage concerns in the construction industry now stand at their highest level since 2008 according to the latest RICS UK Construction Market Survey (Q2 2014).

UK 54% of respondents now say there are insufficient numbers of quantity surveyors currently available to meet workloads (up from 41% in Q1 2014).

The figures show private housing, commercial and industrial sectors are driving strong growth across the whole of the UK, with particularly encouraging performance in the Midlands, which saw workloads rise at a record pace (57% net balance).

However, a shortage of white and blue collar workers (59% of respondents reported shortages of bricklayers and 51% reported a shortage of managerial workers) coupled with difficulties in the sourcing of some key building materials (brick imports were 63% higher than in Q2 2013) is likely to result in upward pressure on costs and prices, while also presenting a challenge to further strong growth in the sector.

Despite this, employment prospects for the sector remain firm, as the industry gets to grips with meeting rapidly rising demands from a historically low base. Across the whole of the UK, a net balance of 60% of respondents expect employment to rise over the next 12 months, with London and the South East outperforming the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland’s employment prospects steadily improving (31%).

Alan Muse, RICS Director of Built Environment said:

The UK construction market is mirroring the natural consequence of a rise in demand after five subdued years. The upsurge in housing demand is creating pressure across an industry which failed to invest in attracting new talent or in the training of existing employees at the height of the economic downturn and this in turn is creating similar effects among material supply.

The good news is that there is reason for optimism, with workloads, profits and employment all forecast to deliver growth over the next 12 months and it is now the responsibility of industry to invest in training and technology to ensure it capitalises on these opportunities.

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