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The latest trade survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) echoes the strengthening in projects starts and planning approvals reported by Glenigan since the start of the year. Respondents to the latest Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey expect construction and infrastructure workload to continue to improve. The Q1 2017 survey found that the pace of growth has increased across all sectors pointing to a widespread improvement in construction activity. In the first quarter of 2017, 27% more respondents to the survey reported an increase in workloads than those anticipating a decline, (up from +18% balance in Q4 2016). Expectations for the next 12 months also remain firmly positive, particularly for activity levels, although they have reduced slightly in case of profit margins. Looking at the different sectors, 34% more respondents cited an increase in private housing output rather than a decrease, which puts it above the other sectors for the pace of growth once again; this has been the case since Q1 2013. The commercial sector saw the largest growth in workload for the quarter (compared with Q4 2016) with 31% more respondents seeing a rise. However, infrastructure workloads also continue to grow steadily with the most significant increases in rail, road and energy categories. These sectors are also viewed as the most promising sectors in infrastructure for the next 12 months. Breaking this down, 60% of respondents felt that repair and maintenance work of existing structures is the most needed type of investment in their area, whilst 40% felt an investment in new projects was necessary. As workloads increase, skill shortages are still cited as a significant problem in the industry with 53% of respondents stating a shortage of skilled labour to be a key impediment to growth. This is up slightly from 50% in the last quarter of 2016.

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