Construction Sentiment in India Continues to Remain Buoyant: RICS Survey

According to the latest RICS India Construction Market Survey for Q3 2012, workloads in the sector continue to rise despite the slowdown in the wider economy. The survey result indicate that sentiment remains relatively upbeat for both the private housing and private industrial sectors; however sentiment has turned negative for public non-housing segments. Additionally, workloads in energy and oil and gas, edged lower for the second consecutive quarter.
Interestingly, the all-important infrastructure sector is continuing to witness growth, albeit at a more modest pace than in the precious quarter of the year. Also, the RICS India Construction Survey which has been designed to capture the sentiment of professionals working in the sector Indicates that respondents are fairly upbeat on the prospects of workloads, employment and profit margins in the coming year. In fact, 97% of the respondents anticipate an increase  over the next twelve months on workloads, with growth expected to average between 7.5 and 10%. The projected gain in employment in the sector over the same period however is a little more modest at 2.5 to 5%.
Not surprisingly given the strength of workloads in the present quarter and what is expected ahead, shortages of skilled labour continues to be a key factor limiting construction activity in the country at present. Responses to the country indicate that skills shortages were visible across all fields including quantity surveyors, other construction professionals and also semi-skilled works such as bricklayers, plasterers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians.
 In fact 90% of the respondents, much similar to the Q2 results of the survey indicated that shortage of labour and financial constraints were the most prominent factors limiting construction activity in the country, followed closely by planning and regulatory challenges. Other factors holding up construction activity have been attributed to insufficient demand, weather conditions, shortage of materials and completion issues. Commenting on the shortage of manpower in the construction sector in India, Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director – RICS South Asia said “One of the most prevailed hurdles for the real estate and construction sector is that of the ‘human resource’ challenger. The sector has a lack of quality talent which stems from the absence of specialized education, resulting in the absence of much needed fresh skilled manpower entering the sector. This has been substantiated by the recent RICS research ‘Real estate and construction professionals in India by 2020’, which establishes a demand-supply gap of 44 million core professionals in the sector. It has been indicated that the shortage of skilled resources have been responsible for slowing down construction activity by an average of 6 months to a year. As a result development firms in the recent past have been compelled to import architects, designers and planners from countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand on handsome salaries thereby pushing up project costs and impacting profitability. Therefore, there is a pressing need to adapt and learn new ways to do business, which in turn will aide all practitioners involved throughout the development process to stay abreast of the knowledge curve and strengthen their ability to survive the paradigm shift taking place in global construction markets.”
To this end, it is heartening to note that for the second quarter running, the use of BIM has increased, with over 25% of respondents using this technology tool over the previous quarter. According to the survey results, BIM is most widely being utilized for cost management, with notable usage in the field of design, time management and facilities management also.

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