The latest ONS figures report construction industry output in November 2015 decreased by 0.5 per cent compared with October 2015. Commenting on the figures, chair of IPSE’s Construction Policy Advisory Committee, David Jackson, said: “It is slightly disappointing to see a small decline in output for November. However, the industry is well placed to manage these peaks and troughs in demand, largely thanks to the self-employed workforce operating in the sector, whose flexibility is vital in increasing the level of competition within the industry.
“Yet, with new research this week revealing UK housebuilding is being held up by a lack of bricklayers, skills shortages could threaten work on many new homes and infrastructure projects,” he added.
Jackson argues that the 800,000 self-employed people who operate in construction – 17 per cent of the UK’s self-employed workforce – are more important than ever. He believes the government will need to rely on such professionals to complete their ambitious infrastructure projects, so must ensure self-employed workers are offered affordable training opportunities, remove barriers to entry such as low starting wages, and address burdensome taxation requirements.
“Much of the UK economy’s future success depends on a buoyant construction industry,” says Jackson, “and in short, if it weren’t for the availability of highly skilled self-employed workers, many projects simply wouldn’t get off the ground.”