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Industry fears further job cuts in 2009

Survey finds that CN readers are just as uncertain about the future as they were in the spring

Six in 10 construction workers expect to see further job cuts in their companies before the end of the year, according to a poll of more than 1,100 CN readers.

The second CN snapshot survey revealed that 23 per cent of readers expected their firm to end 2009 with ‘a lot fewer’ members of staff than they had now. A further 36 per cent expected a small number of redundancies, while only 8 per cent predicted growth in headcount.

The results underline the ongoing problems in the construction industry, which has been hit hard by the economic downturn.

With the housing market still depressed, private expenditure down and public spending cuts expected to hit home from next summer, 58 per cent of respondents to the survey described the industry as an ‘uncertain’ place to work.

Able to use more than one word, 54 per cent said it was ‘tough’ while 31 per cent described it as ‘worrying’. Only 2 per cent used the word ‘secure’ although a brave 8 per cent claimed it was ‘exciting’.

There are few hopes that the industry will find a knight in shining armour this year. Just 5 per cent expect the Government to speed up public sector work in 2009, only 2 per cent think banks will start lending to businesses, and an optimistic 3 per cent expect the housing market to recover.

Perhaps one of the toughest things for construction workers is not having a clear idea when the industry’s downturn will end. While one in seven expected to see a recovery by the end of this year, one in three expected it to take to the back end of 2010, and one in 10 said it could be the later half of 2011 – or later.

Of course, some things are being sacrificed as companies seek to survive the downturn. Half of respondents said they were seeing less client interest in collaborative working, and a third reported less client interest in sustainability.

Although only 13 per cent said there was less commitment to safety on construction sites during the recession, 56 per cent described a slackening of training.

Many of the results showed a remarkable similarity with those from CN’s inaugural snapshot survey in March, showing that the industry has taken little comfort from the past five months.

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