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The construction industry has returned to growth, with profits and productivity up, according to a new report from industry analysts Glenigan, funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
The 2015 UK Construction Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Annual Report, published today (17 September), shows that the median profit margin rose from 2.1% in 2014 to 2.8% this year. Productivity has also improved.
Seven out of 10 (69%) of projects came in to budget or better - on a par with 2014 as the best ever performance on this measure. However, projects were completed on time or sooner only 40% of the time, below an average of 45% since 2003.
Companies are increasing their workforces, in contrast to a year ago when the construction workforce was still contracting. However, the proportion of women and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, as well as those aged under 24, has fallen in the latest results.
Supported by BRE SMARTWaste and endorsed by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Constructing Excellence, the report reveals that increased workloads has meant that firms are struggling to maintain levels of client satisfaction, which has fallen in each of the last three surveys. Nevertheless, the industry continues to make progress on environmental performance and on safety , though a small but concerning rise in fatality rates shows that there is no room for complacency.
Other key findings include:
- The average proportion of women in the workforce has decreased from 19% to 13% in the latest survey.
- The accident incidence rate has fallen to 412 accidents per 100,000 employees, a 2.3% decline on the previous year.
- Projects have become more environmentally efficient, producing fewer CO2 emissions and creating less waste. Median energy use in construction was 199 kg CO2/ £100k project value, and the median project saw 21.6m3 / £100k project value of waste removed from site.
- Building Information Modelling (BIM) is being used on a small but rapidly growing proportion of projects; 13% of projects completed in 2014 compared to 9% in 2013 and 4% in 2012.
Allan Wilén, Economics Director at Glenigan, said: "The rapid upturn in activity during 2014 put pressure on capacity, manifesting itself in rising material and labour costs and extended delivery times. Evidence from this year's KPIs suggests that construction firms have managed to keep control of costs, but delays to schedule have worsened.
"The impact of accelerated industry growth is most evident in the workforce indicators. Staff turnover was up to 5.3%, the highest level since 2008, and staff loss is down to 6.3%.
"The construction industry is looking to a progressive growth in workload over the next few years. However the anticipated recovery presents fresh challenges: growing and up-skilling the workforce, delivering improved productivity and containing costs will be priorities."
Stephen Radley, Director of Policy at CITB, said: "There are many positive results in this year's report, but it shows there is no room for complacency.
"We welcome the return to growth, but project delays shows that the skills challenge is an issue for many across our industry.
"That is why CITB is working with partners in industry and government to deliver the skills that industry needs to grow."
"Later this month, CITB will launch a new service to help employers achieve this, by providing clear information on the many opportunities available in construction."