Specialist contractors are benefiting from increased workloads but higher demand is putting increased pressure on an already overstretched workforce according to the latest National Specialist Contractors Council (NSCC)  State of Trade Survey.

Figures for the third quarter of 2014 show that enquiries in the specialist sector are at their highest for
more than 15 years and this is translating into increased work with 47% reporting an increase in orders.

The upturn in the market has contributed to shortages of labour and materials which is having
an impact on specialist contractors’ ability to bid. Nearly half are finding it more difficult to recruit skilled
labour and balance of recruitment difficulty, which is the difference between respondents reporting more
and less difficulty, has reached a 10-year high.

17% of respondents stated that they are unable to bid for work because of these skills shortages and, as a result, tender prices are on the rise with just 11% of specialist contractors seeing a decrease in prices last quarter, the lowest figure since 2007.

Specialist contractors also continue to experience late payment with 24% reporting that it is still taking
over 60 days for them to be paid, the highest figure in almost six years.

The survey found that a quarter of specialist contractors are looking to grow their businesses in the next three months and more than half planning expansion over the next year.

NSCC say that training and upskilling in the industry is becoming increasingly vital to cope with rising demand. Suzannah Nichol, NSCC chief executive, said: “Investment in training is crucial if the industry is to meet demand and support growth in the UK economy. By facilitating apprenticeships and upskilling the workforce, we can ensure a sustainable future workforce and the industry will be able to maximise the opportunities that an improving market is now presenting.”