The latest survey of local builders by their trade body FMB paints a grim picture with workload, inquiries and employment plunging.

This throws into question how focused the Government is on saving jobs in the construction industry.

If saving jobs is top of the agenda it should think a lot more about small refurbishment projects than the eye-catching mega civils projects. Not that it should ignore the need for massive investment in the infrastructure.

In board terms the repair, maintenance and improvement market accounts for about 43% of turnover but employs about 63% of the workforce, according to the work undertaken by the Construction Skills Network.

So when the FMB puts out a shocking survey that suggests the marketplace of its members is collapsing, it is time for the Government to listen hard, because these are firms heavily engaged in the RMI sector.

And the survey is disturbing. It suggests that more than a half of small building firms have cut jobs in the final three months of 2008 and at least half expect to make more job cuts in the first half of this year, with more than 60% expecting workloads to shrink.

That represents pain across the country among building firms that are more likely to touch the public than those working for main contractors on mega projects.

If the firms represented by FMB are shedding labour at a pace, the image of construction as an insecure career choice will be further reinforced.

It is rather too easy at the moment to note that if the Government better understood the construction industry it would be better placed to take appropriate action in both the industry's and the nations best interest as the recession bites harder.