22nd May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

According to latest research from the National Specialist Contractors Council, the number of specialist contractors struggling to recruit skilled labour is at its highest level in 14 years. And, as a result of this yawned skilled gap, around a quarter of firms say they have had to turn down work- a figure higher now than at any time during the recession.

And the increasing skills gap also means that prices are on the up, with 54 per cent of respondents experiencing an increase in tender prices last quarter, double the level of this time last year. This might be good for us, but isn’t something our clients are going to like after too long I’m sure…

But it seems that whilst a skills gap isn’t great for our industry as a whole, it does offer some individuals a golden ticket.  We all know that our industry is hiring because work levels are on the up, which means that for those already working in construction, an array of opportunities are on offer.

People who would have normally been looking to move up the career ladder when the recession hit are realising that, after a long time, the wind is now in their favour and it’s time to make a move. And the current state of play in the construction jobs market means that individuals can reposition themselves to build a career in any company they want (to a certain degree). A survey by The Institute of Leadership and Management reports that 37% of workers plan to leave their job during 2015, a sign of the times and a significant increase from the 19% who planned to move in 2014, and the 13% in 2013.

It’s safe to say that construction is now a job-seekers playground with simple supply and demand pushing up salaries and the type of offers being thrown about. But despite the high level of ambition being seen across our industry at the minute, it’s vital that individuals remember that despite needing staff, employers won’t be looking to take on somebody who isn’t right, just to fill a gap. At an event I attended last week, I spoke to somebody who had interviewed three people for a site manager role a few weeks prior but didn’t employ anyone because they just weren’t the right fit. This is where the dark art of poaching begins to creep in.

If employers can’t find the right person from an initial advert, then the next step is to begin luring those experienced employees from rival firms and this is something I’m sure we will see and hear more of in the next few months…