We recently sat down with Andrew Stephen, our Construction Director, to speak about trends impacting recruitment within Scotland’s construction industry.

Current Construction Industry Status

ONS reports reveal an all-time high in the construction industry with investments reaching over £99,266, indicating the buoyancy of the market. Further investments are expected following the Scottish Government’s goal to build at least 117 schools by 2020 and 50,000 affordable, quality homes by 2021. Large projects are also currently ongoing at Strathclyde and Edinburgh Universities.

The private construction sector is also witnessing substantial growth as Edinburgh’s reputation as a tourist destination increases, fuelling demand for new hotels and tourism-related buildings. At present, seven hotels are already in construction phases and another two projects are expected to launch within the near future following ISG’s successful bid for a £20 million project.

Across the construction sector, million pound opportunities, including longer-term maintenance contracts, are quite plentiful and the industry is certainly booming.

Challenges in the Construction Industry Recruitment

Robust industry activity means that there’s an increased demand for skilled employees and candidates are driving the recruitment process. Due to growing concerns over Brexit and an industry-wide skill shortage, supplying suitable candidates to fill every vacancy has become a challenge for most construction companies.

Andrew estimates that at present, the Scottish construction industry has a skills shortage of over 100,000 employees. Government projects are expected to require tens of thousands of jobs across the construction and associated sectors. As Andrew explains, commercial surveyors and estimators are currently in high demand as builders seek professionals with the expertise to identify the right type of contracts, secure new business and maximise value from a project.

For example, Andrew recently faced the challenge of recruiting a bricklayer for a project in East Lothian, not far from Edinburgh city centre. After three months of actively looking for bricklayers, only three suitable applications were received. To successfully recruit skilled employees, employers must increase wages and offer additional perks like free on-site parking.

Another problem facing the recruitment sector of the construction industry is an ageing workforce. Skilled labourers, like joiners, bricklayers, and plumbers, are typically older individuals between the ages of 22 to 52 as youths are often attracted to “sexier” jobs like graphic design. Andrew acknowledges that the construction industry has gotten a bad rep as being dirty and cold. Yet, he urges youth to “give it a chance” as there are many “cooler” design and tech-savvy roles available.

Recruiting these younger individuals will be essential to ensuring a sustainable workforce. Otherwise, Andrew says “the industry will lose a generation of skilled people without a sufficient succession plan”.

The Good News

Of course, this is excellent news for anyone already working in the construction industry. It’s also a great time for anyone considering entering this industry as an apprenticeship could allow you to gain crucial experience and lead to fantastic long-term career development opportunities.

Market conditions also mean that builders are more likely to need experienced recruitment consultants. Change Recruitment, an established industry recruitment firm, is ready to help. Speak to one of our experienced consultants today to find out how we can assist you in finding the skilled workers individuals you need to secure new business and maximise project value.

This article is based on a guest post written by Change Recruitment’s Construction Director Andrew Stephen for Scottish Construction Now.