Building on solid ground as companies add 200k jobs

Latest survey suggests growth in the construction sector north and south of the Border  Picture: Robert Perry
Latest survey suggests growth in the construction sector north and south of the Border Picture: Robert Perry
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BRITAIN’S resurgent construction sector is set for a boom that is likely to create more than 200,000 jobs before the end of the decade.

Some 40,000 additional jobs will be needed every year until 2019, 8,000 more than previously forecast, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said today.

North of the Border, it is estimated that some 5,700 tradespeople will need to be hired annually as the industry “continues to benefit from historic highs of infrastructure investment”, the CITB noted.

According to the latest Construction Skills Network report, Scotland will see annual average output growth of 1.1 per cent over the 2015 to 2019 period, though that trails the UK average rate of 2.9 per cent. It follows a strong 2014 for Scottish construction, during which output grew by an estimated 7 per cent in real terms – marking a second consecutive year of expansion.

Output growth in Scotland over the next five years is expected to be strongest in the private housing sector at an average annual rate of 5.4 per cent, although this comes on the back of eight consecutive years of decline between 2005 and 2013.

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Major infrastructure projects due to complete during the forecast period include the Queensferry Crossing over the River Forth, the new Borders rail link and improvements to the M8/M74/M73 motorways, giving the wider construction sector a further fillip. Projects in the pipeline include the new £200m Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary, a new campus for the City of Glasgow college and a new Bio-Quarter for the University of Edinburgh costing £32m.

Phil Ford, CITB’s strategic partnerships director for Scotland, said: “This latest data shows something of a comeback for construction across the UK, with Scotland making a major contribution. Scottish construction enjoyed a strong 2014 with a four-year high of new apprentices and while the main trigger for this, infrastructure, levels out there are a number of promising projects in the pipeline and the prospect of more to be announced, not to mention any new borrowing powers north of the Border.”

CITB Scotland said it had attracted 1,434 new apprentices in 2014 – a four-year high – as well as restarting 171 redundant apprentices.

Ed Monaghan, chief executive of housebuilder Mactaggart & Mickel and chair of CITB Scotland’s advisory committee, added: “The overall market sentiment is that construction generally has turned the corner with many businesses reporting improved order books and housebuilders enjoying a more active market.

“All of this has put pressure on the supply chain, in particular skilled labour.”

The UK’s private-housing sector is set to increase by 4.6 per cent over the next few years, while employment is expected to be particularly strong in Wales and the north of England, the study added.

The UK minister for employment, Esther McVey, said: “Up and down the country the army of workers who are building Britain in the construction and manufacturing sectors have seen a jobs boost this year.

“My message for the bricklayers and builders – and all the trades in between – is that you work hard every day and so are we to create more jobs.”