European markets ‘back to pre-Covid levels’

By Leila Steed19 November 2021

EFCA surveys indicates Europewide optimism, but staff shortages still a challenge

EFCA survey graph

Engineering markets in Europe have recovered from the Coronavirus crisis, according to a survey from the European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations (EFCA).

Carried out by EFCA member associations for their respective countries, the Industry Barometer survey shows the biannual trends and expectations amongst consulting engineering companies in the region.

The Autumn 2021 survey revealed that companies’ order stock, turnover and profitability had all increased on the levels seen over the past 18 months.

Henrik Garver, CEO of the Danish Association of Consulting Engineers and Chair of EFCA’s Industry Barometer task force, said, “Although COVID-19 is still challenging the business environment, and European society at large, the impact on the consultancy and engineering industry in Europe has been reduced significantly, compared to the situation 6, 12 and 18 months ago.”

However, the EFCA warned that staff shortages were still a major challenge for the consultancy and engineering sector.

While around 40% of respondents reported an increase in staff numbers over the past six months, 50% said their level of staffing had remained unchanged and respondents in both Romania and the Ukraine reported a decrease in staff levels.

The Industry Barometer report said, “As in the previous survey, staff shortage and low fees continue to dominate as primary concerns of the industry.”

Conversely, the survey found that a lack of projects is now “ranked as the least of all concerns” for consultancy engineers. 

The Industry Barometer revealed that company revenues/sales generated per employee (as an average across the European countries survey) have also increased from the €101,808 reported in the EFCA’s Spring 2021 survey to €154,301 in this latest publication.

This is a no doubt a reflection of the new infrastructure spending that was implemented by governments across Europe, to stimulate growth in the wake of the pandemic. It means the region now has a robust construction pipeline.

The EFCA survey said that while “the Covid-19 crisis is coming to an end”, it is not over yet and the major challenges being faced by the industry before the pandemic are still on the increase.

In addition to the staff and skills shortages, these include “complex bureaucratic constraints (red tape) and digitalisation”. 

Garver said, “Although all indicators now appear to be back at pre-crisis levels, there is some uncertainty about a sustained recovery because of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across Europe.

“Whilst measures are still needed to address the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, EFCA is strongly advocating increased and targeted investments in decarbonising the economy and built environment.

He added, “The engineering consulting industry has a major role in delivering on Europe’s ambitious climate change targets.”

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