It’s not immediately apparent from the collection of cranes across London’s skyline – or huge ongoing infrastructure projects such as Crossrail – but the construction industry is enduring tumultuous times.
The latest figures show that while construction output recently rose for the first time since January, April 2019 also saw the first fall in overall workforce numbers since July 2016 as lower business optimism and falling sales volumes held back staff hiring.
While residential work has expanded at its fastest rate in four months – gradually chipping away at the UK’s well-documented housing shortage – civil engineering and commercial activity has fallen again, with the ongoing Brexit uncertainty and softer economic growth projections both cited as contributory factors.
The political ambiguity means construction companies will need to prepare practical solutions for some challenges that may lay ahead. The availability of building materials is chief among these, with around two-thirds currently imported from the EU. Disappearing free trade agreements would result in duties, delays and quantity limitations; pushing prices up. But perhaps the biggest concern is the additional impact on the skills shortage.
The UK construction industry has long depended on foreign labour, with estimates suggesting that around a third of London’s workers in the sector hail from abroad. Even with this steady supply of overseas talent, sourcing the volume of workers required has been difficult, so removing the right to free movement among EU members could be a disaster waiting to happen.
It’s still difficult to establish what exact form Brexit will take, but what is clear is that much of British industry has some difficult challenges ahead, particularly those such as construction which are so dependent on resources and support from different countries.
As a leader in end-to-end, cloud-based recruitment solutions we are well versed in helping recruitment agencies, corporate clients, candidates and contingency workers solve temporary worker problems. Given this focus on flexible roles, manufacturing, industrial and construction are three of our biggest sectors and we will continue to work with key stakeholders to ensure they are well positioned for the changes ahead.
In light of the ongoing uncertainty, companies are understandably reluctant to commit to expanding teams on full-time contracts, but temporary workers offer a more flexible way of upsizing and downsizing when required; affording organisation’s manoeuvrability.
Onboarding a huge tranche of workers is easier said than done however, which is precisely why flexible workforce solutions providers such as ourselves can help cut through the regulatory and bureaucratic red tape to make things happen; and quickly.
The political and economic outlook may be uncertain, but the usefulness of temporary workers – both in construction and across the workforce – is only set to increase, so make sure you have the right solutions in place so you’re prepared whatever the future holds.
For an insight into how innovative recruitment technology can deliver competitive advantage in a changing recruitment environment, simply visit www.pixid.co.uk