While employment continues to fall, the PMI’s latest data suggests a sharp rise in activity for UK construction for the end of the third quarter.
The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index registered 56.8 for last month (September) – this being up from August’s 54.6. The data from August signalled a setback for UK construction’s output recovery, as growth was shown to ease considerably from the high seen in July.
Throughout September the number of staff continued to fall, however the rate at which workforces were contracting slowed the most that has been seen in seven months. Of the explanations given for this significant fall in employment, some reported this to be down to the release of furloughed workers, and a restructuring of business operations.
According to data, the category that performed the strongest was housebuilding, with work done on commercial projects also having risen significantly.
As well as this increase in new work, construction firms also recorded an increase in purchasing activity as the third quarter came to an end.
This data has received some interesting responses from the industry, many reflecting on the positive results whilst thinking forward to the future of UK construction given the country, and indeed the world’s, current situation.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Growing activity in the construction industry should make this an attractive sector for young people considering their next steps after school, and people leaving other industries looking to retrain.”
“Construction has a key role to play in rebuilding the economy as recognised by the Prime Minister in his ‘build, build, build’ speech earlier this year. However, to ensure high standards, the industry needs to train, train, train.”
“This means the trades need to be prioritised in the Government’s funding allocations for colleges. It also means we need to strengthen colleges’ links with employers so that we join the dots.”
ilke Homes executive chairman Dave Sheridan commented: “It’s great to see housebuilding continue to bounce back strongly since lockdown earlier in the year, which is being buoyed by the release of huge pent-up demand in the housing market.”
“However, if the construction industry is going to continue on this positive trajectory it’s going to be crucial that we scale-up innovative methods to housebuilding because, at present, the sector does not have anywhere near the capacity to deliver on the government’s 300,000 home a year target.”
“Increasing housebuilding output must not come at the expense of the UK economy meeting its net-zero targets by 2050.
“That’s why as we look ahead to a more carbon-conscious climate, factory-built homes must sit at the heart of the solution.”