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Survey shows 'optimism' over construction industry's future

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image captionThe SBF said the survey results pointed to growing expectations that employment would begin to recover over the next three years

The construction industry is "cautiously optimistic" about future prospects, a survey has suggested.

The survey of the Scottish Building Federation's membership showed industry confidence remained positive overall, but had fallen in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the second quarter.

This was ascribed to possible uncertainty over the referendum.

However, about 42% of employers said they expected to take on more workers over the next three years.

The SBF estimated that the average age of workers employed in the construction sector was currently 40.

The body said a reduction in industry employment in recent years combined with an ageing workforce would continue to pose challenges as the industry recovers from the recession.

Managing director, Vaughan Hart, said: "These survey results confirm the general decline in employment the industry has experienced over the past three years. More encouragingly, they point to growing expectations that employment will begin to recover over the next three years.

"We've seen a decline in confidence this quarter but employers continue to be optimistic about future prospects for their business overall.

"I think general uncertainty created by the referendum may have had a dampening effect on confidence this quarter. I would expect to see industry confidence rebound next quarter, now that the referendum has taken place."

He said it was unsurprising that the workforce was ageing, given that apprentice numbers were down significantly on where they were before the recession.

"It has to be a cause for concern as we seek to re-build capacity," he said.

"Attracting new blood into the industry must be an absolute priority.

"Proactively managing occupational health is equally important so a greater percentage of the workforce is able to keep working in the industry in good health until retirement age."

The SBF said 76 construction firms completed the survey online or by post between 29 August and 17 September.

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