UK and Ireland: skills shortages and construction statistics

Byyyp

Updated Thu, 13 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT

CBI calls for STEM career encouragement
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the UK government to make careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) more attractive and easier to access. In its new report, entitled ‘Engineering our Future’, the CBI calls on the government to take action to prevent a skills shortage in key industrial sectors. Proposed measures include reducing tuition fees for certain STEM courses, training and retraining initiatives to ensure that technicians possess the necessary skills, and gender diversity targets to improve the number of women opting to study STEM subjects.

"Growth and jobs in the future will depend on the UK having a workforce that can exploit new technologies and discoveries. The growing skills vacuum is threatening the recovery, as demand from firms is outstripping supply,” stated Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director. “Highly-skilled workers are essential for our growth sectors and it will be those young people with science and maths who will go on to become the engineers and new tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow."

"The Government must explore if it's possible to reduce the costs of some of these courses and create a one-year crossover qualification at 18 for those who turned away from science and maths after GCSEs, but now want to take a related degree. But it is increasingly clear that the really problematic shortages are at skilled technician level. We do have to play a long game on skills, creating more apprenticeships, but we also need policies for the short-term, including retraining existing workers with in-demand skills in key sectors," added Hall.

Irish construction industry
Ireland's Ulster Bank has released its Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) for February 2014. Key highlights from the report are detailed below.

At 56.2 the PMI® index for February remained relatively in line with January 2014 (56.4). February was the sixth consecutive month to display an increase in activity.
New orders increased for the eighth month in a row, aided by improved market conditions.
The rate of job creation also grew. Staffing levels have risen every month since September 2013.
The residential sector continued to experience a sharp expansion in activity, although the rate of growth slowed down. Commercial activity also increased but activity in the civil engineering sector declined.
The PMI® readings for housing, commercial and civil engineering activity in February came in at 57.5, 55.5 and 40.9, respectively.
"Looking ahead, near-term prospects for the sector are supported by further growth in new orders as firms reported that better market conditions are generating stronger pipelines of new business. Beyond the near-term, firms remain strongly optimistic about the sector's 12-month ahead outlook as sentiment last month remained close to the record high seen in December, buoyed by more positive signs in the wider economy," said Simon Barry, Chief Economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank.