By BEN WOODS Business writer
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The east of England’s construction industry is set to gradually emerge from recession over the next four years as it recovers from a “perfect storm” in the market, according to research.
The region is expected to buck the trend nationally between now and 2017 with average employment levels due to rise 0.5pc annually and construction output set to grow 1.2pc year-on-year, the Construction Skills Network report has revealed.
Meanwhile, construction output for the private housing sector is also expected to rise 3.5pc over the same period, with the industrial sector reaching 6.1pc annual growth from 2015, the report states.
And in west Norfolk, the National Construction College is also seeing signs that the sector is improving after witnessing a 10pc rise in number of apprentices being put through training.
The news follows a dismal last year for the construction industry, which saw 60,000 jobs lost and a 4pc decline in output both in the east and nationally. Catherine Bullough, sector strategy manager for CITB-ConstructionSkills for the east of England, said: “Construction found itself at the heart of a ‘perfect storm’ in 2012 – hit hard by a combination of public sector spending cuts and a lack of investment in the private sector.
“Client and consumer confidence are low and are keeping growth levels down. Fortunately for construction workers in the east of England, the region appears to be one of very few regions bucking the trend for increased levels of employment and output. However, these are still low levels of growth, and not the return to form for the industry that we’ve all been hoping for.
“Construction is a vital engine of UK growth. While construction struggles for its survival, it’s impossible to see how the UK economy can generate significant growth.”
Meanwhile, Andy Walder, director of the National Construction College based at Bircham Newton near King’s Lynn, said the figures provided a positive sign for young people seeking a trade in the construction industry.
He said: “It gives many young people a real opportunity going forward. It’s only the east and London that are showing signs of growth. It is happening because there are major construction projects planned such as the work on the A11.
“But there are also smaller projects taking place across the region like the regeneration of office blocks and houses, which are all helping to create jobs in the market.”
He added: “We have trained 10pc more apprentices then we would have done last year, which is a signal from the construction industry and employers.”
More than 1,400 construction bodies and employers have joined forces in the CITB-ConstructionSkills inspired Construction4Growth campaign in a bid to tackle the growth challenge head-on.
Campaigners are expected to meet ministers at an 11 Downing Street Summit today, when a 10-point plan will be tabled calling on government to actively support the industry.