Scotland business

Scottish construction firms struggle to hire workers

Construction site Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption In spite of concerns about skills and finance, optimism remains high

Scottish construction firms are being held back by difficulties in hiring suitable workers, a survey has found.

The RICS UK Construction Market Survey said that 63% of respondents in Scotland identified labour shortages as the leading restraint on growth.

Skilled workers and construction professionals are in short supply, it indicated.

RICS Scotland Director Sarah Speirs said finding the right workers had become a "practical challenge".

Of those taking part in the survey, 53% said they had found difficulty in recruiting bricklayers and 59% had struggled to hire professionals such as quantity surveyors.

After labour recruitment, finance was reported as the greatest concern.

The figures, which covered the first quarter of 2015, suggested 33% of respondents had experienced a rise in private sector activity.

Ms Speirs said: "Despite the outward optimism, there are some very real unknowns which are impacting on industry, including the general election, the UK's relationship with Europe and skills shortages.

"Now that material shortages are becoming less of an issue, the practical challenges are now in providing the skilled labour the industry needs and in alleviating the financial constraints, which saw nine months of decreased lending in 2014."

The survey found that, in spite of what it called anecdotal evidence of uncertainty during the general election period, measured confidence remained high.

In total, 63% of respondents expected their workloads to rise over the next 12 months, with 3.75% growth in 2015.

Rod Shaw of Thomson Gray in Edinburgh commented: "Increasing workloads are resulting in labour shortages becoming more widespread and not just restricted to specialist contractors."

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