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Construction sector enters third year of growth

According to the Construction Products Association’s latest Construction Trade Survey, growth in the construction industry is now entering its third year. In particular, private housebuilding saw significant growth in the second quarter of 2015, with output rising 43 per cent compared to the same three-month period a year earlier.

Across the board, 17 per cent of building contractors, on balance, reported that construction output rose in Q2 2015 compared with a year ago.

However, there were still some areas of the construction industry that did experience a fall between April and June 2015 when compared with 12 months earlier. For example, nine per cent of contractors said there was a dip in orders for housing repair and maintenance, and even more (14 per cent) said there was a fall for non-housing repair and maintenance.

Furthermore, Construction Products Association found that public housing orders decreased in Q2 according to more than two fifths (44 per cent) of building contractors.

Also of concern will be the much talked about skills crisis within the sector. Indeed, the research highlighted that building contractors struggled to fill several positions in Q2, including carpenters (50 per cent), bricklayers (49 per cent) and plasterers (45 per cent).

Dr Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, commented: "Firms across the whole construction supply chain, including building contractors, SMEs, specialist contractors, civil engineers and product manufacturers all reported rises in output during Q2.

"Continuing the trend since recovery emerged in mid-2013, growth in output was led by the private housing sector, in which 43 per cent of firms, on balance, reported a rise in output. Increased output was also reported in private commercial, the largest construction sector, where 18 per cent of firms, on balance, reported rising volumes of offices and retail work."

He added that as the number of projects pick up there is going to be greater demand for skilled workers, which remains a "lingering concern".