Contractors are also more confident about future prospects with more than 25% of firms expecting workloads to keep rising.
The latest state of trade survey by the B&ES covers the first half of this year and revealed that a fifth of respondents had seen an increase in their order books in the past six months.
Other trends included a slowing down of the drop in tender prices, the re-emergence of skills shortages in certain disciplines and a likely increase in investment in vocational education and training.
The main brakes on the industry were rising materials and labour costs and a further increase in the prevalence of pre-qualification questionnaires.
B&ES chief executive Roderick Pettigrew said: “The findings of this survey paint a rather more encouraging picture than we have seen since the start of the downturn – and one which should provide some modest encouragement across the building engineering services sector and the wider construction industry.
“Of course, we still have a long way to go to return to pre-recession business levels, but it does seem that many of our members do perceive a chink of light at the end of the tunnel.”
The third B&ES independent state of trade survey – covering the six months from January to June 2013 – was carried out across the Association’s membership by independent research organisation Lychgate Projects Ltd, in July. Over 150 B&ES members took part.