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Scottish government to probe impact of Brexit on construction

The potential impact Brexit could have on Scotland’s construction sector is to be investigated by a Holyrood committee.

The economy, energy and fair work committee inquiry will also consider the effect technological changes and automation will have on the industry – which employs more than 154,000 people, 7% of the Scottish workforce.

The construction sector recruits more apprentices than any other industry, with 6,104 people starting modern apprenticeships in 2017-18. But only 1% of this group were female, showing work is needed to boost gender balance.

Consultants have also suggested that productivity in the sector has flat-lined since 1994, in contrast to a 30% increase that has been seen across the economy as a whole.

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 the sector and how can Scotland take advantage of this change?

Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said MSPs are keen to discover how challenges facing the building industry can be overcome.

He 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.”

The inquiry will also examine the role of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, which aims to help businesses “deliver transformational change in construction”.

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