Midlands construction market is experiencing a notable skills shortage

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A new survey from RICS has revealed there is a notable shortage of skilled workers in the Midlands construction market

The latest RICS survey has revealed a significant skills shortage in the Midlands construction market during the last quarter of 2016.

According to the RICS Construction Market Survey, the Midlands area saw the most notable levels of shortages—well above the national average. The number of quantity surveyors in particular were seen as a concern. In fact, the data showed 75 per cent of respondents to the survey said this was an issue. This is the highest rate seen since 2007.

Further concerns were also raised over a lack of other trades such as bricklayers. Warnings were also given that these shortages are holding projects back.

Growth continues to be seen despite shortages

However, despite reported shortages in the Midlands the region continues to see a growth in workloads, with 28 per cent of respondents reporting increases in new jobs during the quarter.

Growth was seen in private industrial and infrastructure, outpacing other regions. A total of 32 and 24 per cent of respondents, respectively, reported growth in these two areas.

Public housing saw the most difficulties, with growth climbing at the slowest rate. Only two per cent more chartered surveyors reported a rise instead of a fall in this area.

Private housing, however, saw 35 per cent more respondents reporting growth. Private commercial also rose during this quarter, with 33 per cent reporting an increase compared to +24 net balance in Q3.

Forecast growth

Growth is forecast to be seen in the infrastructure sector, with demand for rail expected to lead the way for growth in the West Midlands and roads in the East Midlands.

The survey also suggested uncertainty surrounding Brexit and leaving the single market is causing cautious projections in activity.

Shortage of quantity surveyors

RICS head of policy Jeremy Blackburn said: “Many firms are currently having to bring construction professionals in from outside the UK.

“The lack of quantity surveyors consistently apparent in our survey is also underscored by the fact that, at the moment, under the government’s Shortage Occupation List, it is easier to employ a ballet dancer than a quantity surveyor.

“Even if we were to reverse this and also ensure that through Brexit we maintain access to EU workforce, we would still have a domestic shortfall of skills.

“The Industrial Strategy is a golden opportunity to align education, training and employer work paths – along with modern methods of construction – to ensure we have the skilled workforce to meet our building targets.”

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