Jobs in security fencing projects could decline this year as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) warns that small and medium-sized building firms are entering their "Fourth Year of Decline".

According to the FMB's latest trade survey for the fourth quarter of 2010, 31 per cent of those surveyed expect to reduce their workforces this coming year.

Workloads are also predicted to fall, with close to 47 per cent of respondents forecasting contracting workloads at the start of this year, up from 34 per cent in the third quarter of 2010.

Just 16 per cent of those surveyed intend to increase workloads - down from 28 per cent in the third quarter.

"The construction sector has still not reached the bottom of the most savage recession for the industry in living memory," said Richard Diment, the director-general of the FMB.

"Cuts in government expenditure are making matters worse with more than half of building companies reporting falling levels of work in public repair and maintenance work. Our survey shows a sharp increase in those expecting workloads to contract once again in the first quarter of 2011."

Construction firms also expect to scale back on training this year. According to a survey of firms by CITB-ConstructionSkills, 18 per cent plan to cut back on training in 2011.