The Federation of Master Builders has said that while house building in the UK is leading growth in the SME construction sector, there is still a long way to go before recovery to pre-recession levels.
Results from their State of Trade Survey for Q3 reveals that SME workloads are continuing to show growth, particularly in the private house building sector.
A statement from Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said, “We are at last seeing strong, consistent growth in workloads for SME house builders but the building industry is still a long way from being ‘home and dry’. The private housing market is recovering from a very low base after a recession which saw house building fall to record lows. Half of all SME house builders went to the wall or were forced to diversify into another area of construction.”
Speaking about the industry concerns over skills shortages, he said, “The threat of serious skills shortages is also becoming increasingly apparent. Our latest research shows 41% of SME construction firms are now reporting difficulties in recruiting bricklayers – an increase of 7% when compared to three months ago. Carpenters and joiners are also proving difficult to come by with 41% of firms reporting difficulties finding these tradesmen, an increase of 15% when compared to the second quarter of this year.”
The current skills shortage has been addressed in London by Boris Johnson, who earlier this year announced the introduction of two million pounds to help fund a program to get young people interested in a career in the industry. The shortage of skilled construction workers is not a problem that will just ‘go away’ and will only continue as the years pass if something is not done.
"The construction industry has lost 350,000 people since its peak before the recession and this will have a knock-on effect for many years to come,” continued Mr Berry. “Although the SME sector has entered a period of sustained growth, the legacy of the most deep and protracted recession we have ever experienced has left us with a rocky road to genuine recovery.”