Industry Challenges: Construction Recruitment

Construction Recruitment

Construction recruitment has always been a challenging sector for a whole host of reasons, and the present climate is no exception. Four years on from the introduction of the Onshore Employment Intermediaries Legislation and with the UK possible just weeks away from leaving the EU, what are the major challenges and how can one rise to meet them?

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A shortage of skills

A shortage of skilled workers has been a feature of the industry for some time, with the REC reporting on “growth exacerbating existing skill shortages” as far back as 2014, predicting that an additional 36,400 workers would be required each year to keep up with increased demand. Construction recruitment is largely about attracting and retaining high quality workers, and an ongoing shortage of necessary skills makes this much more difficult.

There are other factors that make this shortage of skills even more of a challenge for recruiters and indeed end clients. Skilled workers are very much aware of their strong bargaining position, and they obviously want to make as much money as possible. We’ve heard reports of workers moving from one site to another based on a pay difference of less than £2 per hour. With pressure on pay rates and deadlines to consider, worker retention is an important issue that can’t always be dealt with by simply paying more than your competition. The challenge, then, is to give workers a reason to stay with you that doesn’t just involve increasing their pay.

Confusion over employment status

By now, most people working in Construction Recruitment have at least heard of the Onshore Employment Intermediaries Legislation, which caused much disruption and panic when it was introduced and in some ways is still doing so. Four years on, the main issue is that many still don’t understand it and these misunderstandings are either putting them at risk or making the rest of their job much harder.

  • If you never engage with self-employed workers, you’ll have even more difficulty sourcing the skills your clients need.
  • If you engage workers as self-employed when it isn’t appropriate, you’re putting yourself and your business at risk.

Knowing when you can, and when you shouldn’t, engage workers using a self-employed structure like the CIS scheme is more important in the current climate than it’s ever been.

The UK’s impending exit from the EU

We know, many are sick of hearing about Brexit. However, the construction industry, and recruiters in particular, stand to lose more than most. According to some estimates, as many as a quarter of all construction workers in London come from other EU countries. Whatever your personal feelings about it may be, it’s clear that Brexit represents a significant risk to construction recruitment, especially given what we’ve already said about the ongoing shortage of skilled workers. This risk is difficult to mitigate or prepare for, because jusr weeks from the deadline we still know very little about what the situation will be once we’ve left the EU. It’s possible that most of the EU nationals currently working in our construction industry will remain, and maybe even more will come, but we don’t know that and this uncertainty is causing problems.

What you can do

There isn’t very much that any one recruiter can do about a shortage of skilled workers, but you can arrange things so those workers are more likely to work for you, and do so for longer. When it comes to attracting skilled workers, pay rates are the obvious motivation but if that’s the only differentiator there’s nothing to stop your competitors offering more.

Fortunately, our years of experience managing contingent workers tell us that pay is not the only thing that motivates them. They want to know they’re getting the right advice, that they’re not going to receive an unexpected tax bill, that someone is looking after their interests. They want to know when their pay will reach them, and they want to be sure that it will. If there’s an issue they want to talk to someone who understands their position and will resolve it right away. In short, they want to be treated well, by people who know what they’re doing.

This all sounds obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Time spent managing workers, running payroll and dealing with queries is time not spent sourcing workers for your clients, and there are a host of specialist skills involved. For this reason, the single most important thing you can do to improve worker retention is to partner with experts like Orange Genie Construction.

By partnering with a specialist supplier, you can make use of their expertise in managing contingent workers which will leave your workers feeling well-treated and happy without the need to recruit and train your own payroll and employment specialists.

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