The UK construction industry has had a hard time over the recession. Recruiters working in this space have had to contend with reduced levels of activity and, in many disciplines, some serious skills shortages. Add in such inconveniences as the great brick shortage, a demographic time-bomb filled with older, experienced engineers soon to retire (and insufficient new talent coming on to the scene) and it’s no wonder that only the strong recruiters have survived.
These problems are amply demonstrated by Bullhorn’s annual analysis of recruitment consultancy trends for the UK (published March 2015) in which construction recruitment was regarded as the poorest sector in terms of jobs being filled, with an average ‘fill-rate’ of 38%. Moreover, this survey also showed that ‘Engineering/Design’ had the lowest fill-rate of the different roles analysed, at only 39%. These figures are taken from a survey of 2014 opinion, conducted in December of that year, but the good news is that things are now picking up.
For example, a more recent (April 2015) survey by WRS of the international construction industry showed that confidence is increasing, with 52% of respondents being confident of an increase in both job opportunities and salaries in the next year, with 22% believing there would be no change and a mere 7% that there would be a reduction in both.
For recruiters, there are now even more reasons to be cheerful. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen announcements about the third runway at Heathrow/second runway at Gatwick which, it is to be hoped, will cut the Gordian knot that has been stifling that particular channel of the UK economy. When construction starts, there will be a huge demand for a wide range of jobs and, given the skills shortages in many of the areas required, recruiters will have a key part to play in the success of the new runway/airport.
There is also the expectation that HS2 will continue to power ahead, adding to the 1,500 or so jobs already being recruited for in Birmingham (and elsewhere). In Scotland, the new Forth Crossing has been exercising recruiters for the past year or so, with highly specific requirements for skilled engineers to work on this impressive new showcase project for the Scottish Government.
The need for more houses continues to occupy the politicians and here too the signs have been encouraging. Add in the revisions of the ONS, which now says that output in construction has now declined in the first quarter of 2015 by only 0.2%, and not the 1.6% expected and, equally if not more importantly the fact that recent private surveys of the sector suggest it is actually far more healthy than these figures imply and we really do have cause for optimism. It’s certainly something the recruitment industry can build on!