Construction sector set for major growth
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.”