Skills shortages represent new challenge for UK construction

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Workload expectations across the UK have led to significant skills shortages in the construction sector, new figures show.

Research from The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that 27 per cent more respondents reported a rise in their workload in the first quarter of 2017, marking a rise from the 18 per cent increase recorded in the final three months of 2016.

There are positive expectations for the next year, with activity levels only dropping slightly due to profit margins. 

Some 34 per cent more respondents recorded a rise in private housing rather than a drop, putting it above other sectors when it comes to the pace of growth. 

Although the commercial sector saw the biggest growth in workload for the quarter, with 31 per cent more respondents reporting a jump. Infrastructure workloads also grew steadily and the most substantial rises were in the rail, road and energy categories. 

Across the UK, all regions have seen an increase in the pace of output growth in Q1 2017 besides Northern Ireland. In London and the South East, the net balance went up from +7 per cent to +22 per cent.

However, the rise in workloads has led to skill shortages becoming a significant issue, with 53 per cent of respondents citing that a lack of skilled labour adversely affected their growth opportunities.

What’s more, 65 per cent of respondents said there was an insufficient availability of quantity surveyors. Some 67 per cent regarded the quality of available workers as the main driver in skills shortages. 

As companies continue to look for new specialists, now could be the perfect time for self-employed professionals to realise their value and make a difference to businesses across the country. 

To maximise your earnings, consult a freelancer and contractor accountant, who will be able to assess your circumstances, make sure you meet all regulations and help you to establish yourself in the sector. 

Jeff Matsu, RICS senior economist, said: “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.”  

Mr Matsu went on to say that the report shows key challenges must be addressed in order for the housing and infrastructure plans to be met.


By Victoria McDonnell

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