Belfast Telegraph

Construction sector grows but firms fear staff shortage

By Staff Reporter

Building firms in most parts of the UK have said growth slowed down during the third quarter of the year, according to a survey released today.

The Federation of Master Builders' (FMB) state of trade survey of small to medium-sized enterprises in the industry (SMES) found there had been growth in the sector, but also that many were harbouring concerns about the future.

And the proportion of small to medium-sized firms who were expecting workloads to increase in the next quarter fell from 48% to 41%.

Almost all feared that prices of materials would go up in the next six months, while many were worried about skills shortages.

Just over 60% said they were already struggling to find carpenters and joiners, while many were unable to find bricklayers.

Over half were also expecting wages to go up.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: "Material price hikes and skills shortages are putting the brakes on growth among the UK's small building firms.

"Now that the General Election is well and truly behind us, it was our hope that consumer confidence would spring back and spur growth among small building firms in the third quarter of this year.

"However, our latest research shows that rising costs are dampening the performance of construction SMEs.

"The spike in salaries is a direct result of the ever-worsening skills shortage in our sector.

"It's a simple consequence of supply and demand - construction workers know their worth and, given the scarcity of skilled tradespeople, these individuals are understandably demanding higher wages from their employers."

Belfast Telegraph

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