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Skilled worker shortage 'worst in four years'

The proportion of companies struggling to recruit skilled workers has hit its highest level since 2014, according to a Civil Engineering Contractors Association report.

The trade body’s Workload Trends Survey for Q3 2018 found that 50 per cent of civils firms were having difficulty finding skilled operatives, on balance (those reporting an increase minus those reporting a decline).

This was up from a net balance of 41 per cent in Q3 2017 and marked the highest figure in four years.

However, the supply of non-skilled workers improved, with only 18 per cent on respondents reporting difficulties in this area, on balance – down from 25 per cent a year earlier.

Reports of cost hikes meanwhile hit a three-year high, with a net balance of 89 per cent of those companies surveyed saying costs had risen over the past 12 months.

Tender prices rose year on year according to 60 per cent of civils firms, on balance, up from 49 per cent in the third quarter of 2017. 

A net balance of just 10 per cent said workloads had increased over the past year, compared with 24 per cent as of Q3 last year.

However, 27 per cent of respondents expected workloads to grow during the next 12 months, on balance, up from 23 per cent as of the same point of 2017.

CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said: “There are now serious concerns as to the ability to attract skilled staff to cope with a growing market.

“There is a substantial pipeline of work to be delivered in the coming years. Industry and government need to work together through the construction sector deal to respond to these challenges.” 

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