NSCC firms also report rise in orders and enquiries

Electrical wiring

Over 40% of specialist contractors are looking to expand their businesses over the next year to capitalise on improving market conditions, according to the latest NSCC State of Trade Survey.

In the second quarter of this year specialist contractors reported an increase in enquiries for the third quarter in a row, up to a 6-year high of 49%, with only 24% reporting a decrease.

Order levels are also up with 44% reporting an increase, compared to just 27% last quarter.

However the NSCC warned that the firm’s expansion plans may be hindered by the lack of skilled workers left in the industry.

The survey found that 20% of specialist contractors are reporting more difficulty in recruiting skilled labour, the highest level for more than five years, and 9% stated they were unable to bid for work because of skills shortages.

Late payment is still affecting specialist contractors with just 5% receiving payment within 30 days. For the 54% of respondents who carried out public sector work, 74% of their contracts were reported as being paid within 30 days.

NSCC chief executive Suzannah Nichol said: “After an extremely tough few years, it’s good to see optimism returning in the specialist sector.

“However, successful long term growth will only be possible if the industry solves the problem of late payment which continues to impact on the supply chain.

“This has been recognised in the ‘Industrial Strategy: Construction 2025’ and NSCC will be working with Government to ensure that the commitment to address payment practices is taken forward.”