Construction output to fall as major projects finish

The completion of projects such as the Queensferry Crossing will lead to a dip in construction output over the coming years. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
The completion of projects such as the Queensferry Crossing will lead to a dip in construction output over the coming years. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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Output in Scotland’s construction sector is expected to dip slightly in the next five years as key infrastructure projects are completed, according to data published today.

Overall output is expected to contract by 0.4 per cent annually to 2021, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) forecast found, after the conclusion of several major ventures such as the Queensferry Crossing, which recently saw the final section lifted into place.

There remain excellent, rewarding career opportunities in construction

Ian Hughes

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Excluding infrastructure, total output would experience an average 1 per cent yearly rise in total output over this period, but it comes after a flurry of infrastructure activity in Scotland in recent years, in 2015 accounting for about 30 per cent of output, twice the level for the UK as a whole.

Employment in the construction sector is expected to drop by 0.8 per cent, but the ageing workforce means thousands of new workers will still be needed to meet demand.

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However, the report also found that all in all, most sectors in the industry are to experience growth to 2021. Such an upturn is expected to be slight in housing, for example, with rises of 1.1 per cent in public housing and 2 per cent in private. In contrast, infrastructure is expected to experience falls of 6.3 per cent on average each year.

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Ian Hughes, strategic partnerships director of CITB Scotland, said: “Scottish construction has had an incredible few years, with infrastructure operating at record levels.

“The tapering-off of output in this sector leaves the forecast for Scotland flat, but the picture for individual sub-sectors is brighter, with most due to experience growth.

“With nearly 12,000 new workers needed over the next few years, there remain excellent, rewarding career opportunities in construction.

“We want to support firms in Scotland to take on apprentices, and upskill their workforce, while encouraging young people to join the industry to help construction grow in years to come. While we have factored Brexit into this forecast, there remain many unknowns to life after leaving the EU. We will be working with our industry to understand what it means for our migrant workforce and what we must do to attract and grow more of our own.”

Data published earlier this month by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that the Scottish construction sector was expecting to see output growth strengthen this year following a dip after the Brexit vote, after modest growth in the final three months of 2016.

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