Employees are getting better training, but the UK construction industry is among the most inefficient in Europe, two surveys have revealed.

Constructing Excellence's Key Performance Indicators, published this week, indicated that the percentage of direct employees qualified to NVQ Level 2 or higher has increased from 33% last year to 40% in 2006.

A spokesperson for Constructing Excellence said the KPIs also showed that the industry had achieved an overall improvement in productivity, construction cost and safety, but that it could still save more than £6bn a year if it managed to attain the safety and profitability levels achieved on its demonstration projects.

But a report produced by quantity surveyor Bernard Williams Associates for the European commission has rated the UK joint 11th out of 13 European Union countries in terms of resource usage and labour efficiency.

It claimed UK construction is too focused on traditional procurement and unskilled labour rather than prefabrication and trained workers.

The Low Countries and Scandinavia drew praise for their skilled workforces and high rates of pay.

The UK procurement process, in contrast, was criticised for keeping subcontract prices as low as possible.