Holyrood committee set to examine the construction industry


Scotland’s construction sector is being placed under the microscope by a Holyrood committee.

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee has launched an inquiry to understand the challenges of Scotland’s construction sector, and is looking for a wide range of views on how the industry can be developed to help further drive the Scottish economy.

Specific areas that will be explored are economic impact, access to finance, skills, procurement, infrastructure, and innovation. The Committee is also keen to hear views on how to encourage young people to take up apprenticeship roles in construction and particularly to tackle the gender gap in the industry.

The Convener of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee Gordon Lindhurst MSP said:

“Construction is a vital sector in Scotland as it drives and underpins the economy with its knock-on effect on other sectors. As well as being a major employer, the sector also delivers infrastructure for housing, transport, education and community, and contributes £21.5 billion to Scotland’s gross domestic product.

“However, the sector has its challenges and we want to hear views and suggestions on how these can be overcome. We also want to find out how we can encourage young people to work in the industry, and we’ll be holding consultation work with businesses and colleges over the coming months.”

Some of the questions the Committee would like to explore include:

• How important is the construction sector in Scotland as an economic enabler?
• What are the causes of the sector’s productivity challenges? 
• What is the future economic outlook and implications of Brexit for the sector?
• What are the sources of and barriers to accessing finance in the sector? 
• Do you have any suggestions on opportunities to enhance procurement practices across the sector? 
• What are your views on the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre? 
• How will technological changes (e.g. robotics, automation) impact on the sector and how can Scotland take advantage of this change?


Scotland has around 46,000 Scottish construction enterprises. The majority are sole traders (74%) and a fifth have under 10 employees. In total, employment is provided to 154,410 people across the sector, representing 7% of the Scottish total.  

SDS data shows that construction was the biggest contributor to the Modern Apprenticeship programme with 6,104 starts, up from 5,934 in 2016/17. However, only 1% of entrants were women, showing more needs to be done to tackle the gender gap in construction trades.

According to consultants McKinsey & Company, UK construction worker productivity has remained flat since 1945, while manufacturing, retail and agriculture has grown 1500%. In Scotland, productivity in the construction industry has flat-lined since 1994, whilst the whole economy has improved by around 30%.

The closing date for receipt of submissions is Wednesday 13 February 2019.



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