Saturday 7th February once again saw Contract Scotland as a key sponsor for the Aberdeen Association of Civil Engineers dinner (AACE), an event that we’ve been associated with for close to 10 years.
Whilst a celebration of civil engineering, this dinner is one of the highlights of the Aberdeen construction calendar and is well attended by professionals from across the industry, including Architecture/Engineering Consultancy and Building. This year saw delegates from Sir Robert McAlpine, Mott Macdonald, Chap, Arch Henderson, Cameron & Ross and Fairhurst, as well as guests from Robertson Construction, Dandara, Leiths, JR Donald, Goodson Associates and Baxter Dunn & Gray.
Once again we weren’t left disappointed by the evening as a whole – excellent conversation flowed, combined with great insight into the future of our industry and some humour thrown in by the ex-Scotland Manager Craig Brown & the ever side-splitting Willie Allan from Fife! The night certainly flew by.
Our previous news article spoke of how we’d found the local market over the course of the last few months and we were looking forward to finding out whether the dramatic fall in the price of oil & gas had really started affecting our industry. So what was the general feeling amongst all these different sectors?
Well, the trend is still a positive one, albeit people are starting to raise doubts as to how long this can carry on for in 2015.
In building there are concerns around some of the more speculative office developments (those without tenants or those that would normally attract oil & gas firms who are making large numbers of redundancies/pausing Graduate schemes) and house builders seem to be cautious about the road ahead, with a feeling that house sales will slow in 2015. Perhaps it will create an opportunity within property renovation & refurbishment of existing structures?
Civil engineering doesn’t appear to be too affected at this stage, companies are still talking about a strong 2015 and how to grow their business. This is obviously supported by a couple of major projects including AWPR, but SME’s aren’t lagging behind with a good pipeline of roads, water and flood prevention projects.
On a positive note, the smart employers are recognising that there might be an opportunity to attract transferable skills into the industry, as well as those ‘returning home’ from the energy sector. It’s evident that some employers have concerns over their long-term commitment to our industry and just how transferable some of those skills might be but it’s right to consider this given the distinct skills shortage in the area.
For now, existing projects are going to keep things moving and we’re still handling a wide number of opportunities in the local area, on both a permanent and freelance basis. The question will be what happens in 2016 if the price of oil remains low.