Future construction industry growth contingent on the labour market

Marc Jones, Director of Operations at leading specialist recruitment agency Acorn, said:

“This week’s triple release by the ONS in terms of industrial production, trade and construction certainly provides some food for thought. At first glance, the economy looks to have slowed in the three months to February as it entered the new year; undoubtedly not helped by the recent surge in poor weather. The now infamous ‘Beast from the East’ had a large impact in bringing the industry near enough to a halt leading into March, which is something we may well see reflected in the next set of figures once released.

“Although some of today’s figures look daunting, there is certainly positivity to be found within several sub-sectors when these numbers are put into context.

“Our manufacturing sector is growing – slow growth it may be, but still very much a positive sight. This narrow gap in growth can be attributed to falls in electrical appliances and oil refining. Meanwhile, outputs in machinery, metal products and pharmaceuticals have all been increasing.

“Despite construction outputs seemingly falling up to February after an erratic couple of months, this was partially offset by growth in both infrastructure and housebuilding - two sub-sectors which naturally reflect the current priorities for the sector.

“Construction is an industry highly reliant on investment, and is therefore particularly sensitive to the uncertainties around Brexit in the wider economic landscape. But in the long-term, the outlook is encouraging - we’re looking at a sector for which output is forecast to grow the fastest and to create the most jobs.

“Although this growth might not be as steady as we hoped for before Brexit, it’s important to keep in mind the bigger picture. Across the UK and particularly in the City, deals are thriving, bringing about major public infrastructure projects to make the UK fit for the future.

“In this context, industry growth will be very much contingent on whether the labour market will be able to adapt and expand for current and future needs.

“As a leading recruitment specialist, we are committed to future-proofing the construction industry when it comes to recruitment needs.  We’re constantly thinking outside the box, working to create lasting relationships which will support the industry moving forward.

“We’re currently working with homelessness charity The Wallich as a partner on the BOSS Project initiative, which provides employment training and support to ex-offenders and prisoners across South Wales. As part of the project, we’re working closely with employers to place participants in construction roles and the partnership is thus far proving very successful. These workers often either already have the skills or are eager to learn; our support means that they have the chance at a new life whilst helping to fill the increasingly urgent gap in this sector.

“We’re also looking at ways to encourage more women into the traditionally male-dominated construction sector, with our first ‘Women in Construction’ event soon to be held in the South Wales area.

“We can undoubtedly expect more fluctuations in the year to come — but these industries are growing quickly and this is an exciting time to get involved. At Acorn our priority remains make sure they can access the highly-skilled workers they need.”

Marc Jones
Technical Operations Director
Mark is Technical Operations Director for the Acorn Group. He has worked extensively with major construction industry leaders and now supports community projects with charities such as The Wallich, working to help fill the construction skills gap.
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