Speaking about the Markit/CIPS UK Construction PMI figures released today, Chris Temple, engineering and construction leader at PwC, said:
“On the whole, these figures don’t sway us from our view that the construction sector will experience healthy growth this year. However, the ongoing skills shortage is an area of concern.
“The sector has serious skills gaps, and while the government’s plan to create three million more apprentices by 2020 will help in the long term, the situation will get worse before it gets better, as older skilled workers retire. The shortage is also driving up subcontractor bills and this, combined with continuing rises in the prices of construction supplies, means firms may continue to feel pressure on margins.
“This is of course a serious challenge for the construction industry but it has wider implications for the rebalancing of the economy. In particular, it will continue to put the brakes on the build of new affordable housing which is in such critical demand. In addition, it may result in lower overall construction growth than could be achieved if labour was in plentiful supply.”