Thursday, 19 February 2015

Shortages and investment drive roles for construction contractors

By Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group

Growth in the building and construction industries is often seen as indicative of a healthy economy. And with growth in this arena gaining momentum in recent times, there are a number of huge projects currently underway across Great Britain, all of which have created a plethora of opportunities for contractors. But what’s driving this growth and the subsequent roles for specialists in this field?

The rebirth of the UK construction field can really only be attributed to improvements in the overall economy. Firms and investors were highly unlikely to pay out for major projects unless they felt confident that there would be a significant need or use for it upon completion. However, when the economy did finally pick up, many organisations and government bodies invested heavily in their property portfolios and infrastructure in order to make up for lost time during the downturn. And as the financial situation has improved, this activity has only increased. In London alone we’ve seen the development of CrossRail and the early stages of the HS2 rail line as well as some enormous building projects such as the creation of Google’s new £650m headquarters. These projects, and others of their ilk, have driven significant activity for contractors in construction and its associated industries. In fact, our latest analysis of our database found that opportunities for these professionals have risen steeply over the past 12 months.

However, it’s not all good news for the industry. As with many other sectors, construction and its associated fields have been hit hard by the lack of available skills in the UK employment market. These shortages have had such a significant effect that a survey by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has revealed that two-fifths of its members have actually had to turn away projects because of a “dearth of talent”. If estimates are correct and nothing is done to tackle this significant problem, almost 27,000 projects could be affected by 2019.

Despite this, it’s highly unlikely the market is going to slowdown anytime soon. Only this week it was announced that the world’s biggest offshore wind scheme has been given the go-ahead off the North-East coast of the UK which could create up to 4,750 new roles, many of which are likely to be in construction and its associated fields. There’s also the plans announced by the Government late last year to spend almost £15bn on UK infrastructure by improving the road networks between 2015 and 2021, which will naturally require significant manpower.  And with roles in construction and civil engineering, to name just a few, already being listed on the Tier 2 shortage occupation list, employers are likely to already be relying on talent from overseas in order to continue with these projects. Consequently, it’s crucial that both firms, and the Government, look to tackle the issue and get more people entering this field before it has a serious impact on future economic growth.

While hirers will continue to source contractors to lead complex projects and offer niche skill sets, there is only so long that this can continue before demand for talent simply outstrips supply.

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