Friday March 10 2017

Investment in skills could stabilise labour costs, says property expert

Marcus Higgins,of property consultants Naismiths, believes the construction sector could benefit from stabilised labour costs if investment from the Midlands Engine improves the supply of labour

Investment in skills could stabilise labour costs, says property expert

The Midlands Engine Strategy announced today could mean that contractors and property developers will be less affected by the construction skills shortage, according to a director at a Birmingham based property consultancy.

Marcus Higgins, of Naismiths, has welcomed the announcement by the Chancellor that £20 million will be spent to tackle the skills shortage.

Property developers and contractors are currently struggling to find skilled tradesman, meaning the construction process is being made more difficult and tradesman are able to charge higher than normal rates because the shortage of construction skills means they are in considerable demand.

He said: “This is good news for the construction industry. The skills shortage simply had to be addressed.

“For some time now on-site tradesmen have been able to charge inflated prices, purely because they are in such short supply. Due to the continued high level of activity in the property and construction sector, the demand for them is higher than ever, but the supply is lower than we’ve seen for some time.

“We are seeing core trades and others charging up to £100 more for a day than they were only a few years ago.

“This has led to a bidding war for tradesmen, as they will understandably take the job which pays the most, and have multiple offers in front of them. It’s a real struggle to get skilled labour at the moment.

“With a new generation of tradesmen set to come through, this will speed up the whole process which is of huge benefit not only to their employers, but to the towns and cities they are working within.

“Time will tell whether £20 million is enough to truly solve the skills shortage, but it is certainly a good platform on which to build.”

The Midlands Engine Strategy was published today (Thursday) and includes the establishment of a flagship Midlands Skills Challenge to increase the number of qualified workers in the region.

In total, £392 million will be invested in transport, training and technology in both the West and East Midlands.

Marcus also suggests that this is a lucrative time for Birmingham’s office and residential sectors.

He said: “Investors, professionals and families are seeing Birmingham, and surrounding towns, being heavily invested in, and it’s an exciting time to be here and see it happening right in front of you.

“With even more investment set to come in, it becomes an even more attractive proposition. We have seen that with HSBC expanding their presence here, and other household already having arrived at Grand Central. The unlimited potential Birmingham offers is being noticed.

“It becomes a self perpetuating circle of success. Business is continuing to grow in Birmingham, which sees people relocate here, which benefits the hospitality and leisure industries here. The Midlands Engine Strategy will only enhance and boost this process.”

"This is good news for the construction industry. The skills shortage simply had to be addressed"
Marcus Higgins

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