Construction and Engineering - What To Expect in 2018

Construction and Engineering - What To Expect in 2018

Construction and Engineering - What To Expect in 2018

Carbon60's construction and engineering experts share their insights and forecast what the industry has in store for 2018.

Skills shortages and the competition for talent are just some of the key challenges that the construction and engineering industries across the UK face this year. Major demands from significant infrastructure projects across the country make the war for talent especially lively across the construction and engineering recruitment team at Carbon60. 

Our construction and engineering area managers, and our specialist market analyst each share their industry expertise and insights on what the year ahead holds for construction and engineering businesses, and the industries at large. To effectively address and overcome industry challenges in the year ahead, the Carbon60 construction and engineering experts will continue to support our customers closely as the market evolves, while providing our candidates and contractors with the best service across the UK.


  • Adam Knight, Market Analyst 

As of April this year, companies in the UK with more than 250 staff will be required to report average gender pay gaps, providing greater transparency across many industries, including construction and engineering. The latest official figures from the ONS show that the median hourly pay for women is 18.4% lower than men. 

We are looking positively forward from the current construction and engineering industry climate. Due to the strong pipeline of construction work in the UK and a skills shortage within the industry, I’m confident that construction and engineering professionals will be able to find new roles. Our REC accreditation, in-line with our dedication to provide candidates with the best service, offers confidence and trust in our ability to place professionals quickly into the best new roles. 


  • Ian Howarth, Area Manager (Scotland) 

Trade shortages are by far the single biggest issue that we’ll be assisting construction and engineering businesses with in Scotland this year. On top of these shortages, the civils market within construction and engineering is in decline in Scotland, and as a business we don’t expect to see an uplift until the second half of this year.

Babcock’s contract at Rosyth Shipyard has now finished, which has left around 500 people out of work. Many of these professionals have been at the site for over two years and are moving on with limited qualifications.

As a recruitment business, we are seeing companies like O&G opening up job vacancies as their professionals retrain and move into new disciplines. These people are creating new gaps in the UK construction and engineering market. 


  • Andy Greig, Area Manager (North West) 

Competition for talent will be a continuing theme for the construction and engineering worlds in 2018. There will be major challenges posed by increasing demand from planned and ongoing infrastructure projects in the UK and the reducing pool of competent, qualified blue and white collar workers. 

Candidate engagement, relationship management and nurturing talent are key for us in addressing commitment and encouraging attendance rates to interviews amongst candidates.

White collar candidates have seen a significant rise in salaries, and their expectations have naturally risen with them. As a result of increasing salaries, our clients are finding that personnel costs are now significantly higher.


  • Dan Smith, Area Manager (South) 

Modern slavery continues to be an issue within the construction and engineering industries in the UK. As a compliant business, we protect candidate welfare by examining third party supply chains to ensure transparent payment options are offered to all candidates. 

The skills shortage in the engineering and construction markets will also prove problematic for employers across the UK. To address this skills shortage, businesses could benefit from investments in the Apprenticeships Levy. The time pressures of construction, infrastructure and engineering projects is one hurdle to hiring young talent. As construction and engineering recruitment specialists, my team will be looking at ways that they can encourage clients to hire apprentices and offer young professionals new opportunities.


  • Alex Downard, Operations Director (Construction and Engineering) 

The uptake of investment in the apprenticeship levy amongst construction and engineering organisations may improve as the rules around it are opened up more. 

2018 will be a challenging year as political instability continues to affect construction confidence across the UK, with all the major bodies forecasting stability or stagnation rather than significant growth. In line with geopolitical events, unemployment is likely to continue to fall, coupled with a drop in migrant labour from Europe due to Brexit instability. Temp rates may therefore rise as supply potentially gets tighter.

Despite general industry stagnation, there is predicted growth in the infrastructure and commercial structure across the North West and North East of the UK. It’s anticipated that the TransPennine Express project will offset the decline in the industrial and medical sectors of construction and engineering. Key projects, such as Hinckley Point, HS2, and the new Heathrow Airport runway, will be vital in ensuring the market reaches even the small growth levels forecast.


  • James Spurling, Area Manager (South Coast) 

There’s an ongoing need for the recruitment industry to evolve alongside advancing automation technology. The increase in automated platforms across recruitment, particularly in-line with our engineering and technology specialty areas, is a key consideration for us this year.

There’s a possibility that government sector contractors will move into the private sector due to the IR35. The legislation, aimed at combating tax avoidance, was introduced in 2000.

Finally, with major infrastructure projects due this year – including HS2, Hinckley Point, and the new runway at Heathrow – we as a business are addressing how these major types of construction and engineering projects in the UK will affect our ability to supply effectively.


  • Huw Williams, Regional Manager (Wales)

There’s an impressive pipeline of major construction and engineering projects in the UK this year, including Swansea’s tidal lagoon (2,000 jobs for just one of the four planned projects), the Swansea city centre development (estimated to be worth over £1.2 billion), Newport M4 relief road (£136 million), both South Wales University developments, and the Hinckley Point C project (which will create over 20,000 jobs). Due to a skills shortage in the country at the moment, there are expected to be major challenges around sourcing and retaining skilled construction and engineering workers. 

To address this skills shortage, our focus as a specialist recruitment company must remain on the candidate attraction process, and the overall candidate experience. We have seen unparalleled levels of loyalty from agency operatives who have worked with us for many years through 2017. We continue to invest in individuals through training to widen the scope of opportunities in our specialist construction and engineering fields.

This year, it’s our aim to continue to add client and candidate value, and retain relationships with clients who are likeminded. We strive to foster and develop relationships based on our commitment to quality, compliance, and working in close partnership with customers. 

We’ve made huge inroads into the facilities management market, which is a market that is set to continue growing throughout 2018. This has been helped by the relationships we’ve built across Impellam Group. We expect our white collar and permanent engineering disciplines to see further growth.

Talk of the end of careers as we know them may be exaggerated, but it’s essential we recognise that expectations of working patterns are changing. Those who operate within the gig economy enjoy the flexibility and attractive remuneration, and we are increasingly seeing the effects on the white collar construction and facilities management sectors. While business results and cultural behaviours are key, the days of working in the office 7-7 are being challenged across our partners’ businesses, and within our own. Greater working flexibility, and in some cases remote working, presents different landscapes that we must endeavour to embrace.

To find out more about the big issues facing construction and engineering industries in 2018 and beyond, or to talk to us about your recruitment needs, please contact us.


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