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Rising Demand For Specialist Contractors Worsening Skills Shortage

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A new survey has revealed that amidst soaring demand, the number of specialist contractors having difficulty hiring the necessary talent is at its highest level for 14 years, the Building, Design and Construction Magazine reports.

According to the National Specialist Contractor Council’s (NSCC’s) latest State of Trade Survey, nearly half (47%) of specialist contractors have further struggled to find skilled labour in the past year; compared to just 2% who reported that they had found the task less difficult. These figures mean that the ‘balance of recruitment difficulty’ is now at the highest it has been since 2001.

As the article explains, one of the key reasons for this imbalance is that there simply aren’t enough candidates with the required skills – meaning that more than a quarter (28%) were not able to bid for work, the highest proportion since the recession.

The report also found that 65% of specialist contractors had received an increase in enquiries – 27% more than in the previous quarter – and that 54% had faced order increases, too.

Evidently, this skills crisis is likely to continue having a knock-on effect on prices, with a record 54% of contractors noticing higher tender prices in the last quarter – more than double that of the same time last year.

It seems that political uncertainty surrounding last week’s election has had little impact on confidence levels, with 65% of specialist contractors expecting to see workloads increase over the coming quarter, and the majority (78%) predicting the same pattern over the course of the year.

Commenting on the findings, the NSCC’s chief executive, Suzannah Michol MBE, stated:

“The growing construction market is great news for specialist contractors but we need to tackle head-on the skills crisis that is facing the industry. If we do not invest in recruiting and training people with the right skills, the industry will not be able to meet demand and this will impact on the wider UK economy.”