The latest state of trade survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) found that member firms anticipate that overall employment levels will continue to fall during the second half of the year.
FMB director-general Richard Diment said: “The SME construction sector has now been cutting employment levels for three and a half years. What is concerning is that our latest survey shows that we have still not hit the bottom, with a third of SME builders reporting that they had been forced to reduce employment levels over the last three months.”
“These job losses have damaging implications for the country’s economic recovery and in particular the Government’s forthcoming Green Deal retrofit programme as this erosion of the construction skills base will lead to a serious shortage of suitably skilled tradesmen. Previous recessions show that once people leave the construction industry they tend not come back to it when the economy recovers meaning that their skills are lost to the industry on a permanent basis. Even conservative estimates suggest that we have already lost 125,000 skilled workers from the sector. Allowing the skills base to deteriorate in this way risks holding back the recovery by causing delays and driving up wage costs.”
The survey also found that construction workloads declined for a 14th consecutive quarter in Q2 2011 among FMB members. Some 43% of firms reported that workload had decreased, while 24% said it had increased.
There is unlikely to be an increase in overall workloads in the three months to September with around 36% of firms expecting to see falling levels of activity over the period, although 24% anticipate an increase.
The overall workload net balance remained unchanged at -19 in the second quarter of 2011, although this reflected diverging opinions; in the first quarter of the year, 19% of respondents reported higher workloads, and this percentage increased to 24% in the second quarter of the year.