The wounds from the recent recession have not long heeled so the more pessimistic people in the construction market may have thought the world was coming to an end after the UK’s decision to leave the EU. However, almost three months later experts from within the industry are saying the impact of Brexit is nowhere near as painful as once feared.
Construction recruitment expert, Chris Peace, managing director of Peace Recruitment, says the message from most of his clients is its very much ‘business as usual’.
He explains: “The industry mood was a bit negative the week or so directly after the Brexit vote, but so far the result has not had the negative effect many anticipated. We have noticed a slight market slump, particularly with our larger international clients becoming a little more hesitant. However, these organisations are still hiring, but recruitment does not seem to be at the top of their priority list currently.
“In contrast the more local, and SME firms seem unaffected with some believing the decision will have a positive impact on their business. In particular, the concerns of the larger firms could lead to a “churn” in the market meaning new candidates, and potentially new contracts, might become available to the smaller firms.
“When you consider all the political uproar that followed the vote, the fact that another Scottish independence referendum is potentially back on the agenda, plus it has been holiday season, it is certainly not a surprise there has been a slight downturn. In fact, I think it is testament to the strength of the UK construction sector that we have not seen more of a negative impact.”
Peace adds: “I believe a bigger problem within the industry just now is still the skills shortages. Competition is high within the construction sector currently forcing companies to put in highly competitive tender prices to win the larger framework contracts, resulting in small profit margins. The feedback I have had from some of my clients is that far too many contracts are being awarded dependent on price rather than quality or previous experience, which is hindering the development of the industry. This means firms are not making the required amount of profit to really invest properly in recruitment or internal development of staff.
“The solution… well in my opinion companies need to be more flexible on the type of candidate they recruit. Also, I would suggest planning their recruitment strategy in advance for the next 12 months on a rolling basis.”