Local construction continues to recover
Northern Ireland’s building sector recovery continued in the final quarter of 2013, according to the latest RICS Construction Market Survey, published today.
Local chartered surveyors contributing to the study reported a rise in workloads in the three months to the end of December, marking the second consecutive quarter of growth.
The final quarter of 2007 was the last time the survey’s workload balance (the percentage of respondents reporting rising workloads minus the percentage reporting falling workloads) was above the +13 recorded in the most recent quarter.
However, despite the improvement over the past six months, Northern Ireland continues to lag behind the rest of the UK, according to the RICS report. The overall workload balance for the UK was +38 in Q4 2013, with each other region individually recording a higher workload balance than Northern Ireland.
Like the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland chartered surveyors reported some skills shortages at the end of the year, particularly shortages in quantity surveying skills.
RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, says: “In recent months, there has been evidence of improvement in the local economy, and the picture in the construction industry has been improving as well. However, this is growth from a low base, following a long period of contraction, and the key challenges for the sector locally remain. These include limited access to finance, constrained public sector demand and challenges with procurement and planning.”
“We would urge the NI Executive to encourage and nurture recovery by increasing infrastructure spending through moving more money from current to capital spending. Infrastructure is a driver of growth and competitiveness,” he continues.
“In relation to skills, quantity surveyors are involved in all aspects of the construction supply chain, so when construction activity begins to pick up, demand for quantity surveyors is particularly quick to recover,” he adds.