The latest NSCC State of Trade Survey showed 39% of specialist contractors reported an increase in enquiries and 36% an increase in orders in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The balance of both enquiries and orders – which is the difference between respondents reporting an increase and those reporting a decrease – has improved significantly to 11% and 2% respectively compared to -5% and -16% this time last year.
Capacity levels have fallen with just 61% of Specialist Contractors working at over 75% capacity compared to 72% in the previous quarter, which reflects the lack of work available in the industry.
The majority of specialist contractors are still looking less than three months ahead and market demand, cost of materials and availability of labour and finance are cited as the most important factors affecting their plans.
The medium to long term outlook appears to be more encouraging with 56% of firms anticipating an increase in workload and 44% expecting their businesses to expand over the next 12 months.
NSCC President Kevin Louch said: “The Government has recognised that construction has a direct impact on the UK economy and growth can only be realised with investment in new projects, innovation and skills.”