Scottish construction employment still slow to recover

THE Scottish Building Federation has highlighted that latest official labour market figures still show rates of employment within the Scottish construction industry are proving slow to recover.

It has suggested that this points to continuing difficulties in attracting workers back into the industry and employer concerns about the longer term sustainability of the current recovery in the Scottish economy.

The latest figures show Scottish construction employment rose by 2,000 or 1% during the final quarter of 2014 but was 6,000 or 3% down on the same period in 2013. Full year figures for the Scottish industry showed a 16% increase in the value of output from the Scottish construction sector during 2014, taking the overall value of the industry to the Scottish economy to more than £12 billion. This included a 16% rise in housing output and a 37% increase in infrastructure. Output from private commercial construction remained flat while repair and maintenance showed more modest growth of 3%.

Scottish Building Federation Managing Director Vaughan Hart said, “The construction industry showed impressive growth in 2014 but it seems as though rates of employment within the industry have failed to keep pace. The current spike in infrastructure activity is likely to end with the completion of the Queensferry Crossing next year. In reality, it is the housing, commercial and repair and maintenance sectors of the industry which are the key drivers of employment. Housing is showing positive signs of recovery but from a very low base. Meanwhile, rates of recovery within the private commercial and repair and maintenance sectors, worth almost half of the total value of the industry, are relatively modest.

“These latest labour market figures highlight the challenges employers are currently facing in attracting suitably skilled workers back into the industry. There is also a need to ensure balanced growth across all sectors of the industry to give employers the confidence to start recruiting again in larger numbers.”