1st May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) released its quarterly Construction Market Survey report last week. If you’re a regular reader of this column you’ll know I’m a big fan of surveys like this, but I have to say that I found the results of this one slightly confusing.

RICS has reported that the North East is suffering from both a decline in workloads and a labour shortage. I don’t think the results are actually as bad in reality as they first seem.

During the first three months of this year, 34 per cent of respondents to the survey reported a rise in workloads (down 8 per cent on the previous quarter), but 46 per cent of professionals said labour shortages were still an ongoing issue. This means that even though workload has slightly slowed down, it is still on the increase, we just don’t have enough people to do the work.

Whilst overall I think the survey makes it seem like the North East are struggling in all areas, figures show that public house building in the North of England is actually stronger than anywhere else in the UK. And in the private and infrastructure sectors, 46 per cent of workers reported a rise in household work activity so it’s not all bad news…

New research conducted by a leading business insurance website in the UK has revealed that the majority of young Britons today are not sure what different roles within the construction industry entail. Could this be one the reasons why we’re not getting enough people into construction?

Respondents, aged 18-35, were given a list of ten trades within the industry and asked to summarise each job role. Almost half claimed that they had never heard of a welder or glazier and 7 per cent couldn’t give a correct definition of an electrician.

The majority (67 per cent) admitted that they had never realised there was so many trades within the industry. This proves the importance of educating young people and making them aware of what the construction industry has to offer.

It has been suggested that the election is the reason organisations aren’t spending sending workload levels down; perhaps they’re suffering from a little fear of the unknown. The only way we’ll know is if the figures dramatically change come June.

Do you know what? Sometimes I think we need to look at the bigger picture when these surveys come out. The North East isn’t doing that badly so people shouldn’t be ruling us out just yet…