Growth in UK construction sector hit by shortages in skills and materials

Construction in London

Continued recovery in the UK construction industry is being hampered by a lack of skilled workers and shortages of materials, according to the latest Construction Market Survey released on Friday by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS ).

According to RICS, 36% of respondents to its survey said that building is being restricted by shortages in labour and skills across all building trades, with skilled bricklayers being particularly scarce due to strong demand from the housing sector. Problems with sourcing relevant skills are said to be the highest since mid-2006.

Nearly 40% of respondents also stated that an insufficient supply of materials resulted in limited building activity during the last three months of 2013. Surveyors noted that there was a scarcity of bricks and concrete blocks, in particular.

Despite these constraints, the sector still experienced a revival towards the end of 2013, with the private sector reportedly leading the way. Infrastructure construction is said to be significantly increasing, with the rate of growth increasing at its fastest rate in almost seven years (net balance 24%). The construction sector is also significantly improving at regional level, with workloads increasing for the second consecutive quarter all over the UK.

The RICS survey also revealed that expectations for future construction activity were very positive, with 74% more chartered surveyors anticipating that an increase in workloads will increase during 2014. Also, employment levels and company profits are expected to very positive, which indicates a possible return to prosperity for Britain’s construction sector.

Alan Muse, RICS Director of Built Environment, stated: “With the economy having turned a corner in recent months, it would seem that the construction industry has followed suit and activity is up right across the country. More homes are being built, infrastructure is being upgraded and each part of the UK is benefiting from this more positive picture. However, with recent estimates stating that over 230,000 new homes need to be built just to keep up with population growth, further initiatives from the government will be necessary to get close to this target.”

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