Latest survey of members by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) finds that 63% report skills shortages to have been an impediment to growth in the first quarter of the year. Brick layer shortages were cited by 67% of respondents while 65% said they were having difficulty finding professional staff, including quantity surveyors.
By contrast material shortages, which were cited by 60% of respondents in the previous RICS Construction Market Survey three months ago, were considered to be a problem by just 46% of respondents this time around.
The survey shows workloads continuing to grow steadily across all sectors and in all regions of the UK. Private sector house-building and commercial building are the strongest growing sectors still.
Despite some respondents indicating a degree of market uncertainty caused by the approaching general election, confidence in the growth outlook for the year ahead remains strong. A net balance of 79% of construction surveyors expect their workloads to continue rising over the next 12 months. On average, respondents expect 3.8% growth in 2015.
The survey also reveals that input costs continue to outpace output prices with a net balance of 59% seeing their costs rise while 52% reported growth in output prices. Anecdotal evidence indicates that tighter profit margins are one of the main reasons that contractors are becoming more selective in the type of project for which they are willing to tender.