“There’s no shortage of investment in civil infrastructure. Major projects and frameworks in progress include Transport Scotland's Forth Replacement Crossing, M8 Improvement Works & Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, Scottish Water's SR15 Programme, and Network Rail's Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme & AIR Link schemes.We’ve seen a number of new entrants to the Scottish market from other parts of the
We’ve seen a number of new entrants to the Scottish market from other parts of the UK and the continent. So while there’s no shortage of work opportunities, the market remains highly competitive and profit margins for main contractors remain very low. This creates a challenging environment for main contractors looking to invest in skills for the future.Main contractors are
Main contractors are inclined keep tight control on spending, with strict authorisation processes in place for even low-level recruitment. While this is understandable given market conditions, it slows down the recruitment process which often sees main contractors out-manoeuvred by SMEs who can move quickly on good quality civil engineering staff. A balance needs to be struck between effective controls on spending and the ability to move quickly enough to recruit staff who strengthen their team.
Demand within the main civil engineering contractors is primarily for operations / delivery and commercial staff (in fact commercial staff are frequently attracting job offers from multiple companies). The key for prospective employers is to provide a good working environment and invest in skills, development and good prospects for career progression. Companies that offer a good work / life balance can also appear more attractive.All main contractors are reporting significant difficulties in attracting suitably skilled
All main contractors are reporting significant difficulties in attracting suitably skilled staff in the above disciplines. There’s a need to encourage diversity in the industry, looking at candidates from a wider range of background to bridge this gap.
It’s also essential to engage with schools and further education institutions in order to encourage more young people to consider a career in construction and make the appropriate choices in further education.”
“The major civil engineering sector across Scotland has continued to see steady growth throughout the first six months of 2016. In recent weeks, there’s been a sharp increase in activity, as major projects ramp up recruitment ahead of the summer months.
The current issues revolve around the staffing of major projects in the north of Scotland, where experience in major projects is generally desired. And given how busy site engineers are, there’s a noticeable lack of new talent emerging from the engineering division into management across the central belt.
We’re helping clients get around this by using the network we’ve built up and sourcing the ideal candidates from south of the border. We’re also using our International service to find experienced, talented people from Europe, which has been well received by national civil engineering contractors.”
“Demand in the civil engineering SME sector is mainly for operations and delivery staff. Good site engineers, sub agents and site agents are frequently attracting offers of employment from multiple companies. They’re looking for companies that offer them a good working environment and invest in skills, meaning prospects for progression.
There’s still a shortage of commercial staff across the industry. So if you’re in an area where local skills aren’t available, it’s worth looking at EU candidates. Having assessed their ability to transfer to the UK construction sector, we’ve found EU candidates to be skilled, technically sound and loyal, with a strong work ethic. Civil engineering contractors who can recruit good staff to strengthen their team ahead of project awards position themselves more strongly with-in the market. It can be tricky to resource with a fluctuating workload, but a proactive approach will keep you ahead of the competition. You need to move quickly if you see someone you’re interested in though, as candidates are finding jobs far more quickly. A significant amount of permanent vacancies within the civil engineering SME sector result in successful placement within 1-2 weeks of first interview.
Another answer to the skills shortage is to invest in junior / entry level candidates, if you can support them. It means a lower overhead than taking on someone more senior if they don’t work out.”
“In the first 6 months of 2016, we saw a sharp 127% rise in vacancies (compared with 2015) for SME civil engineering contractors. However, the draw of major projects offers contractors longevity and competitive rates. So rather than compete head-on with deeper pockets, it’s worth considering candidates with transferable skills, and offering further incentives to attract the right people. That could mean a bonus strategy, or help with travel plans, for instance.
2016 will remain a competitive market for SME civil contractors due to essential infrastructure frameworks, continued investment in alternative energy and growth in publicly funded subcontract wins from the main building and civil engineering contractors.”
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