I have raised a number of concerns recently over the state of the construction industry in the North-east after a parliamentary answer I received revealed a worrying drop in the number of construction firms registered in Aberdeenshire.
In 2012 there were 1420 firms registered, according to the Inter-departmental Business Register, however this had fallen to 1395 in 2013.
It was also revealed that there has been a significant drop in the number of people working in the construction industry with 300 fewer people employed in 2013 that there was in 2012.
This drop in construction firms operating in the North-east is deeply worrying and is a symptom of the Scottish Government’s flawed approach to supporting local construction employment.
I also have a number of concerns over the effect this will have on the work on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, given we need skilled workers locally ahead of work beginning on the AWPR.
I have in the past made calls for the Scottish Government to ensure that local construction firms benefit from the hundreds of millions pounds worth of contracts that will be awarded during this project. There is no doubt that the construction of the bypass can be an opportunity to improve this situation if it means work going to our local construction businesses.
However there has not been enough clarity from Ministers on how local firms will benefit from work on the AWPR.
I feel that it is vital ministers ensure the final contract for the AWPR delivers this and the much needed boost for the construction industry in the North-east.
The Scottish Government have simply not done enough with the power they hold over procurement to support local construction firms and employment here in the North-east.
These figures show they can’t afford to make the same mistake with the AWPR.
If ministers fail to ensure that local firms benefit from these contracts it will be a huge opportunity to reverse the worrying drop in construction employment in the North-east.
I will continue to call for this approach to be taken with regards to the AWPR and press ministers to ensure that they better support our local construction industry.