Construction industry’s limited recovery ‘stalled’

THE construction industry has suffered a ‘substantial loss of employment’ in the last three years, according to an official report – although industry chiefs have said job numbers have remained steady.

Rihoy & Son chairman and managing director Jeremy Rihoy. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 26852794)
Rihoy & Son chairman and managing director Jeremy Rihoy. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 26852794)

The latest Guernsey Economic and Financial Stability Overview report, published by the States, said that the sector makes up a large proportion of the island’s jobs and takes on many young people but has been in the doldrums for several years.

‘The limited recovery of the construction sector experienced during late 2017 and early 2018 appears to have stalled and conditions in the sector remain challenging,’ said the report.

‘The construction sector has faced significant challenges in the last three years with a lack of large-scale building activity resulting in a substantial loss of employment from the sector.’

While there were signs of recovery in terms of construction jobs in 2017 and 2018, ‘employment levels began to decline again later in 2018 and there has been little change in employment levels in the first half of 2019’, said the report.

‘The employment trends seen correlate with the level of development activity undertaken in Guernsey.’

Rihoy & Son chairman and managing director Jeremy Rihoy said staffing levels remained fairly steady, however the industry itself did face a challenge in recruiting staff when needed.

‘We’ve maintained a fairly stable workforce over the years,’ he said.

‘Although at the moment we don’t need staff, we know that finding good staff is difficult and that is down to a number of things.

‘Demand has shrunk massively and that is partly due to the housing market, especially in the open market, which is weak at the moment – fewer people are wanting to move over to the island and the level of demand in the construction industry is lower than it has been previously.

‘The economy is sluggish, plus credit has been tight from banks and States work has decreased as well.’

He added that when employing staff, he remained on the lookout for good people rather than advertising.

‘We just keep on the lookout if we need to employ someone,’ he said.

‘But we’re lucky to have a constant workforce that has remained the same, but the industry itself can have its challenges.’

Ronez general manager Steve Roussel said: ‘We haven’t seen an increase or decrease in itself in numbers.

‘Other than in replacing retiring staff, we’re expecting them to remain similar to how they are now.

‘Two or three recruitment drives a year is usual for us.’

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