SME’s in construction have enjoyed more than five years of consecutive quarterly growth, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Construction SMEs enjoyed rising workloads in the second quarter of 2018, despite continuing concerns over skills shortages and increasing costs. This was one of the key findings from the FMB’s latest State of Trade Survey, a quarterly assessment of the UK-wide SME construction sector.
However, it also found that more than three-quarters (76%) of builders are reporting increasing material prices in Q2 2018, and two-thirds (65%) of construction SMEs are struggling to hire bricklayers, while 60% are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The second quarter of 2018 proved to be a positive one for the UK’s builders. Our latest research shows that firms enjoyed stronger growth in workloads than they did in the first three months of this year. Pleasingly, the construction SME sector has now enjoyed more than five years of consecutive growth. Furthermore, employment rose at a faster pace in the second three months of 2018 than it did in the first three months. Looking ahead, despite growing political uncertainty and Brexit now less than a year away, construction SMEs remain positive. Businesses are optimistic with nearly half of firms predicting rising activity levels over the next three months.”
Berry concluded: “Despite this optimism, the sector should not be too complacent because strong headwinds remain in place. The sector is still contending with rising skills shortages. The latest evidence reveals that nearly all of the key occupations have become harder to recruit in the second quarter of this year compared to the previous three months. Without guaranteed access to skilled EU workers, there is a real possibility that skills shortages will further intensify. While we wait to hear what the post-Brexit immigration system will look like, we are hoping that the Government will listen to the needs of the sector. The construction industry is a cornerstone of the UK economy, so it’s in all of our interests to do what we can to support its small firms.”