Study suggests Scottish construction sector will cut 2,000 jobs a year between now and 2017
Scotland's construction sector is expected to continue to contract over the next five years, according to the findings of a new study.
The report, released by industrial training body CITB-ConstructionSkills and the Sector Skills Council, projects construction output up to 2017 will rise by just 1.1 per cent – ahead of the UK average projection rise of 0.8 per cent.
CITB-ConstructionSkills predicts output from Scotland's construction sector fell by as much as 13 per cent last year and the sector is likely to remain in recession.
And it predicts around 2,000 Scottish workers in the sector will lose their jobs each year until 2017.
In addition, the report outlines a 58 per cent drop in Scotland’s forecast annual recruitment rate requirement for construction – falling from 4,800 jobs annually to 2,800 – and accounting for 1.3 per cent of the nation’s total construction employment projected for 2013.
Employment figures across the overall UK are at their lowest level since 2000, with 2.36 million people working in the industry.
The report predicts the decline in public sector construction projects will ease going forward and economic recovery will fuel private sector growth.
It's predicted that output growth “will not materialise until 2014” and gross added value growth is predicted to “remain under two per cent a year in 2013 and 2014, providing little impetus for a recovery in demand in the private sectors in the short term”.
It predicts output growth will peak at four per cent in 2015, falling to three per cent in 2016 and to just one per cent by 2017.
Graeme Ogilvy, Scotland director for CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: "No one can argue that 2012 was an easy year for the Scottish construction industry. However, there are some aspects which we can remain optimistic about.
"Despite the downturn, the sector still took on around 13 per cent more new apprentice entrants in Scotland than in 2011.
“This is a promising development which needs to continue if the industry is to be in a position to tackle the demographic time-bomb which will leave skills shortages as an ageing workforce retires.
"Regardless of the economic backdrop, a focus must remain upon training and upskilling, ensuring there are adequate preparations in place for when the industry bounces back from recession and is sufficiently able to cope with the increased level of demand."
The report suggests renovation and maintenance work will rise in the next five years but overall it paints a bleak picture for the sector for the next five years, with only Greater London and the East of England expected to see employment levels rise.
Steve Murphy, general secretary of the construction union UCATT, said: "These latest figures make grim but all too predictable reading.
“There's been a cut in public spending at a time when the private sector has been unable to fill that gap. This has been catastrophic for construction workers who have needlessly lost their jobs.
"Rather than destroying people's lives, the UK Government needs to invest in the future, starting with a social house-building programme which will provide desperately needed homes, get skilled workers back to work and help get the industry back on its feet."
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "This report highlights the errors made by the UK Government in slashing our capital budget by some 26 per cent.
"We have long made the case this was the wrong course of action. Even the recent funding provided in the autumn statement has merely reversed a part of the cuts made by the Treasury.
"Our approach has always been to invest in infrastructure to create an economic stimulus for growth and support jobs.
“That is why, over the three year period from this year to 2014-15, we will support infrastructure investment of more than £10 billion, and will switch more than £700m from resource spending into capital investment."