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Companies looking to combat skills shortage by hiring more graduates

Experts are warning that a lack of available skilled candidates is threatening to derail growth in the construction sector. Many companies are currently working with very limited capacity to take on more work, which is forcing a rethink in recruitment strategies with a higher emphasis being placed on graduate recruitment and in-house training.

Jennifer Graham, from Edinburgh, is a perfect example of a graduate who has been taken on by a large construction firm. Jennifer, who recently completed her MSc in Construction Project Management, was in high demand and manged to secure an Assistant Project Management position with the Sweett Group even before she had finished her degree.

Jennifer comments: “I guess I am lucky to have graduated when I did, as the skills shortage meant it was a good time to be looking for a job in the construction industry. I registered with Peace Recruitment before I finished my MSc, and was lucky enough to secure the position I am in now before I graduated. It was definitely a case of good timing, and I was very lucky to find the right kind of expert help. Coming from a non-construction background meant I didn’t want to rush into anything, however, I quickly grew in confidence and saw that not only did my skills and personal attributes fit in well for a Project Management role, but that it was also a very good time to be looking for this kind of job.”

 Jennifer previously studied Archaeology at university, and wasn’t too sure about what career path to take after she graduated. She ended up working in retail and customer service roles for over 7 years, and then by chance took a temporary job in Facilities Management and ended up working on an office relocation and refurbishment project. She found that she really enjoyed it and this is how she ended up on the MSc course.

 She explains: “Despite not having very much industry experience, the people skills and communication skills I learnt during my time in customer service have been an invaluable quality and are a huge part of my PM role now. Going from being a Postgraduate at University to a graduate within the PM team was a bit of an adjustment, and there were days when I thought ‘what have I done!!’ –but I think every graduate experiences that early on in their career, it is part of the learning process. Six months later, I couldn’t be happier and I am so proud of everything I have achieved so far. The best thing about my work is the variety of interesting projects I get the opportunity to work on; I am gaining exposure to everything from strategic business cases to design team meetings and construction phase delivery. The team of people I work with have been a fantastic support to me; they’re keen for me to gradually take on more responsibility which has really encouraged me confidence wise. Sweett Group really is a lovely place to work; it’s so much more than just a job, they’ve invested in my personal development, encouraged me to network within the wider industry plus the social events are great too. It is exactly the kind of company I wanted to end up working for and I am so glad Peace took the time to understand that and recommend me”

 Chris Peace, Managing Director of Peace Recruitment, and expert in construction sector recruitment explains: “Increasingly we are placing more graduates as construction firms look at other ways to combat the skills shortage. This is good news for the industry as it means companies are investing in the future. I have been recommending to my clients for some time now to invest in graduates, or more junior personnel, and place more emphasis on training and development.”


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