Construction sector in Scotland is resurgent

Much has been said recently about the recovery of Scotland’s construction sector and the potential for another property bubble. What is clear is that the people and firms linked to this important industry are finally breathing a sigh of relief.

Latest figures suggest Scottish construction output increased by more than 10 per cent last year. Picture: Getty
Latest figures suggest Scottish construction output increased by more than 10 per cent last year. Picture: Getty

Latest figures suggest Scottish construction output increased by more than 10 per cent last year. The industry employs more than 170,000 people with around 31,000 businesses operating up and down the country. In cash values, construction is bringing around £6.1 billion to the economy, so it’s important that sustainable growth is encouraged.

The Scottish Government has published its own ambitious drive to get the sector raising more than £9.62bn for the economy by 2016. Part of this goal includes increasing innovation and raising exports by 10 per cent.

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It’s telling that government recognises just how important innovation and export are to construction. Before the 2009 economic crash, Scotland’s construction sector was largely focused on supplying huge demand on home soil. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed. As the economy has rebuilt itself and demand has been restored, once again, construction firms have sought to serve British buyers.

Scotland’s construction firms must look, think and act internationally to flourish in a new competitive global market. In recent years, Asian firms, such as Daewoo and Samsung, have arrived in Scotland to deliver new innovative construction projects. Their products and skills are being brought here because they’re offering cutting-edge methods of design and delivery, reducing costs without compromising on safety.

The good news is that Scotland already has some great examples of innovative thinking in the construction sector, none more so than the sustainable materials and methods used to construct the athletes’ village in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games. Firms that invested in innovation are now in a great position to take advantage of the recovery.

Things are looking up. Now is the time for the construction industry to embrace its economic revival and seek new growth opportunities to ensure a sustainable, bubble-free future.

• James Andersen is senior manager, property & construction, Scotland at Grant Thornton UK

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