Scottish construction industry expected to rebound

THE construction industry is “cautiously optimistic” about future prospects for the sector, a survey suggests.

42 per cent of employers are expecting to take on more workers. Picture: PA

Around 42 per cent of employers expect to take on more workers over the next three years, according to the latest Scottish Construction Monitor.

The quarterly survey of the membership of trade body the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) showed industry confidence fell compared to the second quarter of the year - possibly due to uncertainty over the referendum - but remains positive overall.

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The body said a reduction in industry employment in recent years combined with an ageing workforce will continue to pose challenges as the industry recovers from the recession.

The SBF estimates that the average age of workers employed in the construction sector is currently 40.

Managing director Vaughan Hart said: “We’ve seen a decline in confidence this quarter but employers continue to be optimistic about future prospects for their business overall.

“I think general uncertainty created by the referendum may have had a dampening effect on confidence this quarter. I would expect to see industry confidence rebound next quarter now that the referendum has taken place.

“These survey results confirm the general decline in employment the industry has experienced over the past three years. More encouragingly, they point to growing expectations that employment will begin to recover over the next three years.

“At the same time, there’s evidence that Scotland’s construction workforce is ageing.

“With apprentice numbers down significantly on where they were prior to the recession, this situation is entirely understandable. But it has to be a cause for concern as we seek to re-build capacity.

“Attracting new blood back into the industry must be an absolute priority.

“Proactively managing occupational health is equally important so a greater percentage of the workforce is able to keep working in the industry in good health until retirement age.”

The SBF said 76 construction firms completed the survey online or by post between August 29 and September 17.