RICS survey says housing industry revival challenged by skills worries

The latest RICS construction market survey says the industry continues to pick up, but it has issued a warning over skills shortages

The latest RICS construction market survey says the industry continues to pick up, but it has issued a warning over skills shortages

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

THE UK house building sector maintained its revival at the end of 2013, but worrying skills shortages are still stymieing the industry, a report has said.

A Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) construction market survey says the housing market continues to strengthen, with private sector work a key factor in the growth.

However, the report revealed companies are still facing shortages in skills and materials, which are constraining the industry's recovery.

The survey said 36 per cent of respondents revealed labour shortages have restricted building work, with a lack of skills increasing across all trades, with bricklayers particularly scarce due to strong demand from the housing sector.

It said more firms are now reporting problems recruiting workers with relevant skills than at any time since 2006, with 40 per cent of respondents saying the last three months of 2013 also brought reduced materials, with bricks and concrete blocks in short supply.

But bosses did say infrastructure construction is showing signs of picking up speed, with the improving construction sector seeing workloads rise for the second consecutive quarter across the whole of the UK.

Alan Muse, RICS' director of built environment, said: “With the economy having turned a corner in recent months, it would seem the construction industry has followed suit and activity is up right across the country.

“More homes are being built, infrastructure is being upgraded and each part of the UK is benefiting from this more positive picture.”

The report comes after York-based builder Persimmon delivered a better-than-expected rise in annual revenues, with strong demand sending home sales up by a quarter in the final six months of last year.

It saw revenues rise 21 per cent to £2.1bn last year as homebuyers flocked to developments.

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