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FMB warning about construction skills shortage

SMEs having difficulties despite the booming construction industry.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned about the skills shortage ‘looming’ over the construction industry.

It follows the latest State of Trade Survey about the three months up until June 2015, which provided welcome results for the industry.

The survey, which monitors key indicators and predicted future short term developments in the UK construction industry, is the only survey of its kind that focuses exclusively on small and medium-sized (SME) firms throughout the industry.

It is dispatched to a rolling stratified sample of 2,000 FMB members in each quarter, with the responses received weighted according to turnover.

In the second quarter of the year, the survey showed the workloads of SMEs continued to experience rising activity, with 42% of respondents reporting more growth, up from 39%.

In addition to this, those indicating lower workloads fell 5% to 15% from the previous quarter.

SMEs continue to perform well with the news that employment has increased for the sixth successive quarter.

In the last survey, the number of firms who reported a decrease in workload went down and over half reported no change in employment.

But Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, warned that SMEs are struggling with skills shortage.

He said: “There can be no doubt that the building industry is booming but the skills shortage continues to loom large over our industry.

“Almost half of construction SMEs are struggling to recruit adequate numbers of bricklayers, with others finding it increasingly hard to hire carpenters and joiners, site managers and supervisors.

“Looking ahead, our members are reporting that their workloads are likely to rise over the coming three months which means the shortage of skilled workers will only become more acute.

“It also begs the question, how much stronger would the pace of growth in the UK construction industry be if we had an ample of supply of skilled tradespeople?”