Small construction firms suffer ‘sharp fall’ in workloads
Workloads for small builders in Scotland took a downward turn towards the end of last year, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
In its latest State of Trade Survey, the organisation said builders struggled to contend with poor weather and skills shortages amid worries over wider economic uncertainty.
The FMB warned that the recovery enjoyed by the sector over the past year should not be taken for granted.
FMB Scotland director Gordon Nelson said adverse weather in November and December was largely to blame for falling workloads, with delays and costs impacting on output.
He said: “Although we remain reasonably confident that the Scottish construction industry will continue to grow in 2016, these findings should weigh against any creeping complacency, especially given some of the gloomy predictions being made about the wider economy.
“There is growing political consensus in Scotland over the need to build far more new homes of all tenures and to invest in our existing housing stock to improve quality and energy efficiency - therefore these are two areas that need to be firing on all cylinders.
“Moreover, a concerted effort to tackle the skills crisis is badly needed.
“The survey shows that 52 per cent of our members reported difficulties in finding carpenters and joiners, and 43 per cent continue to have trouble hiring quality plumbers.”
He added: “With 44,000 tradespeople expected to retire in Scotland over the next five to 10 years, it’s vital that we create more modern construction apprenticeships to help meet the current and future demands upon the industry.
“If we fail to do so, the housing crisis will be exacerbated and the quality and longevity of our existing housing stock will diminish.”