Although construction activity as a whole was at a near record low, the underlying value of new civil engineering projects was 18% up on a year ago according to the Glenigan Index .
The Glenigan Index is based on business intelligence firm Glenigan’s database of construction projects and tracks the monthly volume of construction projects valued from £100,000 up to £100M starting on site each month." Civil engineering prospects are expected to remain strong during 2009," said the Index report. "The sector will benefit from new projects in the renewable energy sector and spending on both rail and road infrastructure."
Engineers have said their order books are supporting this trend."While there is no dispute that the construction market in the UK is currently contracting, we believe that there are opportunities for growth in the civils sector and are redeploying skilled engineers and project managers from both the UK & Ireland," said John Sisk & Son director of civils Darren Beale.
The construction industry as a whole is struggling to recover more than civil engineering. Glenigan reported construction activity 27% down year on year. But the industry appears to have put the brakes on its declining fortunes – the index for January rose to 81.6 from 76.9 in December 2008."With economic prospects still fragile, few developers are willing to push forward with new construction projects,” said Glenigan. "In many regions the value of new projects was at least a fifth lower than in the same period last year."
Glenigan economics director Allan Wilén said: "While the latest bank base rate cut to a new historic low is welcome, urgent steps are also needed to improve access to mortgage and development finance and to accelerate the delivery of promised government construction projects."
Meanwhile, the latest unemployment figures from the Office of National Statistics show that although construction workers top the list of professions joining the dole queue, civil engineers were not the worst affected. Quantity surveyors were worst hit with a 490% rise in new claimants in December 2008 compared with December 2007. Civil engineers claiming benefit increased 209% year on year.