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Sun March 07 2021

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Skills crisis takes root in Scotland

22 Dec 14 Business confidence among Scottish construction companies has reached a new high as 2014 comes to a close, but recruitment problems and skills shortages could stymie any further growth.

SBF managing director Vaughan Hart
SBF managing director Vaughan Hart

The latest quarterly survey by the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) found member confidence to be at its highest level since its survey began back in 2008.

The latest Scottish Construction Monitor recorded a score of +26, up 15 points from the previous quarter. It is the sixth consecutive quarter that the confidence score has been in positive territory.

However, employers have highlighted critical skills shortages in a number of key trades and managerial positions and are calling for increased funding to help recruit and train more apprentices. Specific skills shortages are particularly acute in certain regions of the country.

Carpentry and joinery skills are in generally short supply with companies in the northeast of Scotland particularly affected. There is also a shortage of bricklayers across all regions although the impact is especially strongly felt in the Central and Fife region of Scotland, where employers also report a critical shortage of wood machinists. Employers in all regions are reporting difficulties with recruiting stonemasons and plant operators.

At a managerial level, the survey identifies challenges across all regions in filling general construction supervisor and site manager roles. Employers in the Highlands & Islands report particular difficulties with recruiting project managers.

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Overall, employers in the Central and Fife region are reporting the highest number of skills shortages in the local construction sector whereas companies in the Highlands and Islands are currently reporting the fewest skills shortages of any Scottish region.

Commenting on the survey results, SBF managing director Vaughan Hart said: “With these new survey results, it’s great news that the Scottish industry is able to close 2014 on a new confidence high. That suggests that the industry’s recovery is now happening.  The flip side of that is that employers are encountering increasing difficulties in filling certain management roles and there are emerging skills shortages in certain trades. This seems to be particularly true of joinery and bricklaying trades.

“Our members are telling us that current levels of funding provided through government and CITB grants to help employers recruit and train apprentices are insufficient. Given the growing skills shortages the industry is now facing, now is the time to review funding and to explore what additional support can be provided to boost training and recruitment. As an industry, we also need to be more proactive in promoting careers in construction as an excellent prospect for today’s school leavers.”

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