THE total value of construction output will fall by 2% in Scotland in 2013 but increase by between 1% and 4% annually in each of the following four years, experts predict.

Research by CITB Construction Skills suggests that following an estimated 15% fall in output in 2012 prospects should improve for the Scottish industry into the medium term.

The industry body expects declines in public sector construction to ease while better economic conditions will provide the framework for growth in the private sectors. The growth rate will peak at 4% at 2015, falling to 3% in 2016 then 1% in 2017.

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The strongest growth is projected for the housing repairs and maintenance sector, with an annual average increase of 3.7%.

CITB estimates construction output will increase by an annual average of 1.1% over the five years to December 2017 in Scotland, compared with 0.8% in the UK. It believes Scotland will grow from a lower point than the UK and is likely to be ahead of the UK in work such as the energy efficiency upgrading of buildings and in financing public sector work.

However, employment will fall by an average 1% annually in Scotland during the five-year period.

CITB reckons there is currently excess capacity in the Scottish construction industry, which will need to be taken up before firms consider hiring new staff.

However, Graeme Ogilvy, Scotland director for CITB said: "Despite the downturn, the sector still took on around 13% more new apprentice entrants in Scotland than in 2011." He said the industry could face skills shortages as ageing workers retired.