SCOTLAND’S construction industry is expected to grow at a “considerably lower” rate than the rest of the UK over the next five years, according to a new report.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is predicting growth of 1.1% a year on average over the 2015 to 2019 period.
The figure compares to a rate of 2.9% in the rest of the UK, the industry forecast from CITB’s Construction Skills Network found.
Its report attributes the “relatively modest” predicted growth to an expected decline in infrastructure activity from 2016 onwards.
“Scotland is projected to see annual average output growth of 1.1% over the 2015 to 2019 period, considerably lower than the UK rate of 2.9%,” the report said.
“Average growth rates for new work and repair and maintenance are expected to be similar, at 1% and 1.2% respectively.
“This output growth rate is only just strong enough to generate marginal employment growth, of 0.1% on average per year, again well below the UK average of 1.5%.”
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It adds: “Large projects such as the Queensferry Crossing, Borders Railway and M8/M74/M73 improvements are all due to complete during the forecast period and, while there are new schemes on the blocks, they are unlikely to compensate in full for those leaving the pipeline.”
Despite this, infrastructure investment in Scotland remains at a historic high, the organisation said.
It pointed to upcoming projects including the £200 million Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and a new campus for the City of Glasgow college.
CITB Scotland is to ramp up a campaign to attract more workers to construction in order to meet the annual workforce requirement of 5,700 over the next five years.
It said 1,434 new apprentices had started working in the industry in 2014.
Phil Ford, CITB’s strategic partnerships director for Scotland, said: “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.
“With figures for new infrastructure and private housing projects smooth over the period reported, it gives us a strong platform to build from.”
Over the next five years, expansion is expected to be strongest in the private housing sector, with an average annual growth rate of 5.4%, although this follows eight years of decline between 2005 and 2013.
Ed Monaghan, chief executive of property developers Mactaggart & Mickel Group and chair of CITB Scotland’s advisory committee, said: “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.”