Con­struc­tion sec­tor set for ma­jor growth

Bangor Mail - - YOUR VIEWS -

THE con­struc­tion sec­tor across Wales is set to grow faster than in any other part of the UK over the next five years.

Re­search from the Con­struc­tion In­dus­try Train­ing Board (CITB) es­ti­mates an an­nual av­er­age growth rate of 4.6%, more than triple the growth of the UK av­er­age of 1.3%.

In­fra­struc­ture re­mains the main driver, with ma­jor cap­i­tal projects planned on the A55 and A494 at Dee­side and a third Me­nai Strait cross­ing, while the Wylfa Newydd nu­clear plant is also set to get un­der way.

Other ar­eas pro­vid­ing a boost to the sec­tor in Wales in­clude both the pri­vate and pub­lic hous­ing sec­tors, with Welsh Gov­ern­ment set­ting a tar­get of 20,000 new af­ford­able homes by 2020/21.

It is pre­dicted that there will be 12,250 new jobs cre­ated over the next five years - reach­ing a to­tal con­struc­tion work­force in Wales of 121,500.

In con­trast, the prospects for the non-hous­ing sec­tors are weaker, with pub­lic non-hous­ing out­put only pick­ing up to­wards the end of the fore­cast pe­riod as Band B of the 21st Cen­tury Schools pro­gramme ramps up.

Com­mer­cial con­struc­tion af­ter two very good years is ex­pected to suf­fer from in­vestor cau­tion due to Brexit. Con­struc­tion firms also is­sued a warn­ing about short­ages in skilled labour and land.

Gwyn Jones, com­mer­cial di­rec­tor at Macbryde Homes, said: “It is re­ally en­cour­ag­ing to see such pos­i­tive pro­jected growth fore­casts for the con­struc­tion in­dus­try in Wales com­pared to the rest of the UK, and it cer­tainly cor­rob­o­rates much of our own ex­pe­ri­ence here at Macbryde Homes.

“We have a strong legacy of build­ing homes across North Wales and the de­mand we’ve wit­nessed has been phe­nom­e­nal over the last year.

“Even over the sum­mer months, when you might ex­pect the mar­ket to qui­eten, there was a three-fold in­crease in foot­fall at our de­vel­op­ments in the re­gion.

“This is some­thing we’d like to see grow.

“We very much hope to in­crease our cov­er­age through­out North Wales over the com­ing years in or­der to meet the clear de­mand that ex­ists for new homes.

“To re­alise this, we will cer­tainly need to in­crease our re­cruit­ment, both amongst ex­pe­ri­enced and skilled work­ers, as well as lo­cal trainees who can grow and de­velop with the busi­ness.

“How­ever, to en­sure that these growth plans and job cre­ation goals can be achieved, there is a real need for a far greater sup­ply of land al­lo­cated to hous­ing. Sim­ply, there is a short­age across North Wales and ad­dress­ing this, along with an im­proved plan­ning sys­tem, will be key to en­sur­ing the growth needed to re­ally ben­e­fit the lo­cal econ­omy.”

An­wyl Con­struc­tion Di­rec­tor Tom An­wyl said: “The fore­cast growth in Wales and the North West is very en­cour­ag­ing and it is some­thing that we are see­ing our­selves both in the con­tracts and hous­ing sec­tors.

“An­wyl Con­struc­tion is busy in North Wales on three ma­jor ex­tracare homes and with more work in the pipe­line here and in the North West where we are ex­pand­ing our op­er­a­tions and where our house­build­ing arm, An­wyl Homes, are also ac­tive.

“Con­struc­tion tra­di­tion­ally leads the econ­omy out of re­ces­sion and that is again the case but we must en­sure that we have the skilled peo­ple to ful­fil the de­mand.

“At the An­wyl Group we work closely with the CITB and with The Prince’s Trust to get more young peo­ple into con­struc­tion and equip them with the skills to make ca­reers in the in­dus­try. We are very proud of the fact that 20 per cent of our cur­rent work­force be­gan their ca­reers with us as ap­pren­tices and many more now run their own com­pa­nies and sub-con­tract to us.

“It is vi­tal to have a skilled work­force avail­able and that is what has helped us se­cure im­por­tant con­tracts which will in turn bring em­ploy­ment and eco­nomic ben­e­fit to the ar­eas in which we op­er­ate.”

Wynne Con­struc­tion man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris Wynne said: “It is en­cour­ag­ing to see such pos­i­tive fore- casts and growth for Wales.

“How­ever, I would ex­er­cise cau­tion be­fore in­vest­ing in re­cruit­ment and train­ing as all this has been pre-Car­il­lion col­lapse and, more re­cently, Capita con­cerns.”

Mark Bodger, Part­ner­ships Di­rec­tor for CITB Wales, said: “The fore­cast in Wales re­mains strong and shows the con­fi­dence in the Welsh con­struc­tion sec­tor to de­liver ma­jor projects.

“A skilled work­force will be at the fore­front in de­liv­er­ing the va­ri­ety of schemes planned and work­ing with our in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment we want to en­sure the rel­e­vant train­ing is de­liv­ered here in Wales.

“The open­ing of the new Con­struc­tion Wales In­no­va­tion Cen­tre (CWIC) this year will play a sig­nif­i­cant role in de­vel­op­ing the fu­ture skills needs for our na­tion. The cen­tre will aim to de­liver train­ing to over a thou­sand peo­ple per year, along­side ad­di­tional train­ing in CWIC hubs across the coun­try.

“We have the projects, we are de­vel­op­ing the skills, but what our in­dus­try needs now is cer­tainty in the pipe­line of work fore­cast. That will al­low Welsh busi­nesses to plan their skills needs and take full ad­van­tage of the pos­i­tive out­look for the sec­tor.”

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