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The UK Construction and Engineering market outlook for 2015

The engineering & construction sector is central to the UK economy, covering a vast variety of activity from huge infrastructure projects to building houses, routine repair and maintenance.

Although impacted by the recession, things are looking up for this exciting sector – a recent Markit report found the industry was taking on workers at the fastest rates since the survey began more than 17 years ago.

The jobs increase is fuelled by the demand for 245,000 new houses each year and other vital infrastructure projects, with Government’s Working Futures estimating employment levels to increase by 200,000 in the coming decade. While global construction is forecast to grow by 70% by 2025!!!


Engineering and construction is often seen as a sector suffering from an image problem. Perceived by many as being poorly paid, lacking security and diversity, with poor career pathways and bad working conditions. However, according to current estimates the UK engineering & construction industry needs to double the pipeline of new recruits by 2020 – great news for candidates looking to forge a career in this sector!

A national project like the 2012 Olympics illustrates the scope of engineering & construction roles available, it also showcases soft skills required: like problem solving, flexibility and time management. A recent CIOB enquiry found that construction courses in further-education colleges were oversubscribed, and that 6,000 apprenticeship places received 40,000 applicants. However, the CITB found 80% of employers’ inability to fill a vacancy was due to lack of skills, nearly as many – 73% – cited a lack of motivation and a negative attitude.

Prompting renowned inventor and businessman James Dyson to emphasise: “An engineer is not a man in greasy overalls or a harebrained oddball … They are technologists, developing ideas to shape our future.”

“If you feel overwhelmed – an agency with broad industry knowledge can give you expert insights into this complex sector, everything from up to date CV to industry specific training. There are many routes into this exciting industry, but attitude is key!”, says Louis Borhani, specialist construction consultant at Angel Human Resources.


The importance of training and retaining skilled workers is more important than ever. Industry professionals, like architects commanding 5% salary increases over the last year due to fierce competition for their services. While house builders are increasingly taking on tradespeople, like bricklayers, directly, instead of subcontracting. Indeed the number of bricklayers claiming job seeker’s allowance had dropped to its lowest level in at least a decade.

Engineering & construction is currently one of the strongest performing sectors for pay growth. Big infrastructure projects, like planned transport improvements, and vital housebuilding is increasing demand for talent. The sector lost almost 400,000 people during the recession and another 400,000 are due to retire over the next five years, according to CITB.

Traditionally long supply chains have seen training fall to small contractors who can ill afford the time or cost, meaning training has sometimes been considered a ‘nuisance’ according to Balfour Beatty. But this is changing, with Government backing initiatives like Tunnelling Capability Analysis enabling the flow of demand between projects to be assessed and skills and capabilities invested in.

The importance of on-site experience and learning is emphasised by a recent CIOB survey where 90% of respondents cited apprenticeships as vital to ‘plugging the skills gap”.
The good news – there are plenty of free training and paid practice opportunities out there in the market. Armed with in-depth industry knowledge agencies specialising in recruiting for construction industry can best advise aspiring professionals and craftspeople to develop their careers through relevant training advice and meaningful industry connections.


Not only is the industry expanding but it’s changing too. BIM (Building Information Modelling) the first truly global construction technology will soon be deployed across the globe. Construction 2025 says, “The industry faces a pressing need for a capable workforce that can deliver transformational change by the end of the decade.”

These advancements and others – mean that the industry will need to mobilise the country’s brightest talent to effectively apply that technology. The effect is already being felt as the number of sector workers with a degree or equivalent almost doubled in 10 years. Project Managers, schedulers, design staff and engineers with IT skills, CAD and, of course, BIM skills are particularly in demand.

Angel says, while the introduction of new and rapidly changing innovations can seem overwhelming for both businesses and professionals – embracing them is the way forward. The UK’s BIM strategy is currently the most ambitious and advanced centrally driven programme in the world and shows that the industry has something to offer tech savvy graduates and professionals looking to develop their skills.

Currently CAD people are often trained as BIM managers, but experienced candidates with construction backgrounds are vital as BIM comprises mostly virtual construction, project management, and communication. While senior professionals experience is seen as key to the sector’s future success, in BIM graduates entering the sector with BIM skills are seen as vital to spearheading innovation.

“Not only can an agency help talent keep ahead of the game through relevant industry networks – including businesses and universities – but the beauty of working with an agency, like Angel, is that we’re always on the lookout for top talent to recommend to our clients. It does not cost a penny to register with an experienced agency while your registration could be worth a £90K+ annual salary’’, adds Louis Borhani.