It has become noticeable of late that construction consultants seem significantly more optimistic than their fellows in UK contracting firms.
Consultants may be a wee bit uneasy, but contractors it must be said seem to be wading in a slough of despond. The topic of restructuring (for which we read cutting jobs) is back on the agenda.
I’ve suggested as one possible explanation for this disparity in happiness that consultants might be winning more work abroad and so partially relieving the pain of operating in the current UK market.
This explanation would certainly fit with the word on the street. But does it fit with the data, which sadly is pretty sketchy?
Here in a few graphs is what the ONS Pink Book (UK Balance of Payments) can tell us about the performance of UK consultants and indeed contracting firms in the overseas market.
For reference, the definition of construction services covers work done on construction projects and installations by employees of an enterprise in locations outside the resident economic territory of the enterprise.
The figures are in current prices, so no account is taken of inflation.
But the picture clearly seems to be one where UK firms are picking up increasing amounts of work abroad.