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Tue June 22 2021

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Scotland’s civils workload continues to plummet

20 May 19 Workloads in Scotland’s civil engineering sector have plunged for a sixth consecutive quarter, prompting a call for change in the procurement of public sector projects.

Grahame Barn
Grahame Barn

The newly released figures come from the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Scotland, which represents more than 110 contractors of all sizes, covering approximately 80% of the civil engineering market in Scotland. 

CECA’s latest Workload Trends Survey for Scotland, which has been published quarterly since 2005, finds little scope for optimism, with Scottish workloads continuing to trail behind the rest of the UK.

Almost all contractors (93%) report rising costs and almost half (48%) cite issues recruiting workers with the right skills, again trailing the rest of the UK where skills shortages were found to be less of a challenge.

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Contractors are calling for action from the Scottish government to put in place a clear future infrastructure pipeline for Scotland and reform of procurement to give better support to Scotland’s civils sector. CECA Scotland chief executive Grahame Barn said: “These latest figures really need to be seen as a wake-up call for the Scottish government, although they will come as no surprise to our members. Investment in infrastructure is central to Scotland’s future economic success and while we welcome the creation of the Scottish Infrastructure Commission, we need action here and now if we are to ensure a sustainable future for the Scottish civils sector and avoid a skills drain down south.

“There is no doubt this is an extremely challenging time for our sector and that is especially the case for contractors working on public sector infrastructure projects. The current procurement model is broken and needs reform now. We are hopeful that Scottish ministers are now mindful of this and we are in the early stages of discussions to take reform forward.

“It’s time for a new approach to procurement for major infrastructure projects - one that better reflects the shape of industry here in Scotland and that ensures a sustainable future for Scottish based civil engineering contractors.”

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