Brexit instability has caused the UK construction industry to shrink in 2018- with the trend continuing in 2019- leading to more uncertainty for site workers, according to a leading industry figure.
Alan Brockhouse, CEO of access firm PHD Group said, that workers on building sites are hit hardest during harder economic times as they are forced to move further away from home to seek employment as jobs dry up.
PHD Group, which supplies scaffolding, masts and hoists, events infrastructure and construction services has carried out analysis that shows that the general slowdown in the construction industry has been made driven by the uncertainty caused by Brexit.
But Brockhouse says that he is confident that this overall slowdown will actually create new opportunities for stronger firms as they consolidate their position in the market.
PHD Group, which has a headquarters in Uxbridge, London, is in the process of creating a national network across the UK by buying up other access companies and creating strategic regional hubs.
Brockhouse said, “No markets like uncertainty and the construction industry is no different. Our analysis appears to show that there is less money going into construction specifically because of Brexit as investors either hold back funds or look overseas for other investment opportunities. The construction industry is already shrinking but we calculate that Brexit has made that situation an estimated ten per cent worse.
“One of the first people to suffer in a downturn are the site workers who are no longer guaranteed work, have to travel further from their families and experience downward pressure on their wages as contractor margins are squeezed in a bear market.
“From our point of view the downturn actually creates opportunity because there will be a consolidation period and the strongest will survive. The fact we are looking to create a national infrastructure when it’s a buyer’s market can only be a good thing.
“The other good news is that by creating this national infrastructure we will be in a position to offer our expanding workforce more job security. We will also be able to guarantee workers job roles within certain regions so that they’re not having to move around the country, which can be both costly and detrimental to family life.”
PHD Group, which has 400 workers and turns over in excess of £40m, has also adopted a policy of spreading its risk by expanding its work in the industrial sector, data centre and pharma industries as well as acquiring more work overseas.
The company has already identified Cambridge, the Midlands, Leeds and Manchester as key areas to create hubs for their national infrastructure.
Brockhouse added, “We’re feeling very buoyant about the future. Even though there is uncertainty at the moment we’re confident this will create opportunities that will hugely benefit the company and our workforce.
“There’s a lot of scaffolding company owners approaching retirement age who don’t have an exit strategy and may well not be keen to go through another downturn in the market so we feel there will be plenty of opportunities for us to set up these new hubs.”