A pick-up in infrastructure activity was the main bright spot in the Welsh construction sector during the third quarter of the year, alongside a modest rise in private housebuilding, according to figures from our latest RICS Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey.
Overall construction workloads in Wales were flat in the period, according to the survey, but respondents indicated that infrastructure activity – including things like energy infrastructure, roads, rail, water and sewerage, and communications – increased during the quarter.
There was also a rise in private housebuilding in Wales between July and September, according to surveyors, however the rate of growth moderated from the second quarter of the year.
Despite the overall flat picture in the industry, Welsh surveyors did continue to report shortages of key construction skills. 72% reported shortages of quantity surveyors, whilst 77% reported shortages of bricklayers.
Indeed, shortages of labour, alongside financial constraints, was identified by respondents as the biggest impediment to growth in the sector.
Anecdotally, surveyors have also indicated that uncertainty in relation to Brexit is leading to a hesitancy in some quarters to invest.
“Whilst the overall picture is flat, it is encouraging to see infrastructure and housing workloads rising, given the chronic housing shortage that Wales faces and the long-standing need to invest in our infrastructure,” said Neil Brierley, RICS Construction Spokesman for Wales, and Head of Operations at Faithful+Gould. “Skills though remain a concern for the sector, particularly in relation to quantity surveyors and some surveyors are indicating that this is holding back growth.”