The managing director of the Scottish Building Federation on how workers are needed to keep the recovery going

Insulation and worker

The Scottish construction industry showed impressive growth during 2014, rising 16% to take total output to more than £12bn. However, latest labour market figures (published on 18 March 2015) suggest rates of employment within the Scottish industry have failed to keep pace, rising by 2,000 to 177,000 during the final quarter of 2014 but down 6,000 or 3% compared to the same period in 2013.

Infrastructure output alone increased by 37% during 2014. But this current spike in 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 Scottish construction industry.

It is also crucially important to ensure balanced growth across all sectors of the industry to give employers the confidence to start recruiting again in larger numbers.

Vaughan Hart, managing director, Scottish Building Federation, via email