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Social Housing Repairs ‘Boosting Construction Sector Confidence’
The construction sector in the UK appears to be doing well in terms of hiring at the moment, with a new report revealing that high demand for sector employees is helping to boost national jobs optimism.
The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey asked whether businesses intended to reduce the size of their workforce over the next three months or hire extra members of staff – and construction emerged as the most upbeat of all sectors, rising six points to an Outlook of +11 per cent. This was supported by social housing repairs, it was suggested.
Managing director of the organisation James Hick said: “Construction hiring often slows in the winter months, but the UK is set to buck the trend this year – our data suggests this could be the strongest fourth quarter for hiring since 2005. Some of this work is the urgent testing and repair that is being carried out up and down the country on much of Britain’s public housing stock.
“The state of housing in the country is under the microscope like never before and the need for both building and remedial work have caused demand in the construction industry to shoot up.”
However, it was noted that these positive effects of these factors could be hiding pressure points in the labour market, which is facing a squeeze on incomes and a serious skills shortage at the moment. Mr Hick went on to say that the hiring intentions may not actually become a reality because of the problems associated with attracting and retaining employees with the right kind of skills. Without this pool of workers, projects will “flounder” and construction of buildings won’t take place.
Newly released data from the Office for National Statistics has this month (September 8th) found that construction sector output in the UK has now fallen for the fourth month in a row. It dropped by 0.9 per cent in July and fell 1.2 per cent on a three-monthly basis.
And the most recent IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI also revealed that the sector has seen its weakest overall construction performance since August 2016. The main source of this weakness was identified as reduced levels of commercial work, which served to offset the growth seen in residential building. New business volumes also fell for the second consecutive month, which was put down to reduced business investment and increased economic uncertainty.
In terms of the labour shortage, it could become more problematic for construction companies with Brexit on the horizon. A leaked Home Office paper – seen by the Guardian – suggested that the free movement of labour would come to an end straight after leaving the EU, with new restrictions in place that would mean only the highest skilled EU workers would be able to come into the country for jobs.
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