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The Major Issues Facing the Construction Industry in 2017

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The construction industry will face staff shortages, a weak pound and challenges from emergent technologies this year, a construction recruitment specialist has forecast.

These issues pose fresh challenges from a sector invigorated last year by heightened productivity and the approval of major construction initiatives, including the development of a chain of new garden cities.

Paul Payne, managing director of construction and rail recruitment consulstancy OneWay, has outlined the obstacles for the sector.

  1. Staff shortages: The number of skilled professionals working in the industry contracted significantly during the recession, Payne explained, Now more 22% of the workforce are in their 50s or 60s and on the cusp of retirement and they aren’t being replaced by young hires. The industry needs to promote careers in building to young people and to professionals looking for a change in career to maintain productivity and staff the ambitious projects which recently been green lighted.
  2. Weak pound: A weaker pound will drag down the entire economy but have a particularly detrimental effect on the construction industry. A weak pounds drives up import prices for raw materials sourced from seas. Already material prices have reached their highest level in five and a half years and are pushing up the bottom lines of builders across the country. “Ultimately this could lead to them squeezing costs elsewhere, for example in staffing, or even having to pass on certain projects,” Payne said.
  3. Brexit: The construction industry relies on the skills of overseas workers, Payne said. Changes to Freedom of Movement could exacerbate skills shortages.
  4. The growth of AI: Artificial intelligence is already having an impact in the construction industry, with drones and 3D concrete printers becoming more commonly deployed across the sector in the last 12 months. “Many have suggested that their growth could lead to jobs being cut, but realistically anything like this happening is way off in the distance. For the time being, technology promises to make many of our jobs easier, rather than taking them away,” Payne said.

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