Belfast Telegraph

Lack of skilled graduates 'hurting construction sector'

By Staff Reporter

Construction faces a shortage of skilled young people after graduates deserted the trade in the downturn.

The Construction Industry Professionals Council (CIPC) said the recession had put young engineers and IT workers off a career in the sector.

Instead, they had flocked to other areas, while many had also emigrated, leaving construction with a skills gap.

CIPC chairman Kevin McShane said: "The council is stepping up its collaboration with education providers to help deliver the next generation of professionals, including through apprenticeships.

"With every £1 invested in construction generating £2.84 in economic activity, our sector is a valuable contributor to the economic recovery."

The council held an event at Stormont to mark its 100th meeting, joined by Finance Minister Mervyn Storey and First Minister Arlene Foster.

Earlier this week, a survey by the Construction Employers Federation said just 25% of construction companies were operating at full capacity. And around 20% were at half capacity or less.

The picture for the final quarter of 2015 had worsened since the same period a year earlier.

Yesterday, a major survey said housebuilding activity in the UK sank to its lowest level in more than two-and-a-half years in February.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index showed that housebuilding growth slumped to its lowest level since June 2013, and that it was the weakest part of the construction sector for the first time since January 2013.

Overall, the survey indicated growth in the construction industry sank to a 10-month low in February, falling to 54.2 last month from 55.0 in January - the lowest since April 2015.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) showed there was a 30% increase in registered new homes, from 2,487 to 3,223, in Northern Ireland during 2015.

Belfast Telegraph