Home News Construction recruitment: Bridging the short-term skills gap?

Filling the skills gap has been a significant challenge for a large proportion of specialist contractors, and scaffolding is no different from any other trade. Ben Alderton, from The Construction Recruitment Company, warns of pent-up demand likely to soak up skills during the first half of 2018.

Is it now the time to act before the market tightens and salaries and wages start to experience upward pressure? This may well be the case with the construction industry in a state of flux following the collapse of Carillion. There are fears over thousands of job losses because the company directly employed 20,000 in the

UK, and its tentacles reached far and wide into the supply chain. On the day of liquidation, the industry giant was the main contractor on 57 construction projects worth a staggering £5.7 billion (according to Barbour ABI).

During January we saw a 50 per cent increase in enquiries from tradespeople of all types looking for work. While contractors reported that recruitment pressures had eased, this may, in part, have been because the Carillion supply chain was swiftly laying off subcontract labour, while retaining their own direct labour. We’ve also seen larger schemes taking longer to be given the go ahead adding to increases in availability.

However, talk to contractors around the country and they are still positive. Contracts that have been stalled are beginning to come to the market and those billions of Carillion’s contracts will be re-allocated. And on top of this there is strong demand in the housing sector adding pressure.

Last month Build UK found that 8 per cent of contractors reported that the recruitment of skilled labour had been more difficult than during the final months of 2017. And the number of trades and professions where contractors reported widespread recruitment difficulties doubled. The sudden increase in availability may, therefore, only be a blip and it is likely that the recruitment of key trades, including scaffolders, and also surveyors, supervisors and managers, will continue to be problematic.

Recruitment difficulties are also impacting on labour costs. Rising labour costs, combined with material cost increase, puts added pressure on overall building costs – in a competitive market, this can eat into margins.

It becomes even more imperative that specialists have the right resources to deliver solutions that are not only safe and of the highest quality, but can also deliver contracts efficiently, on time and to agreed budgets.

For businesses that have ambitions to grow and maintain a sustainable capability, ensuring a steady and reliable supply of skilled resources is business critical. At a time when a pool of skilled resources has leaked into the market, because of Carillion and some contract delays, there is underlying demand that will create the evils of inflation in the months ahead. Now is the time to take advantage and secure skilled resources before pressure builds again.

Ben Alderton
The Construction Recruitment Company

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