As a result, businesses, government departments and local councils are unwilling to increase their overheads in areas where the future remains unclear, so hiring interim staff on short- or long-term contracts is being considered the safer and more cost-effective alternative. It also provides organisations with flexibility as they manage fluctuating levels of demand. For firms with projects to deliver, hiring contract workers enables them to bring in dedicated staff with expertise that might be missing in their workforce.
For professionals, working on an interim basis provides flexibility as workers can build assignments around time for other activities. In addition, some professionals find that contract work provides them with the opportunity to build on their own experience by operating in a different environment. And those who eventually want to return to permanent work are able to use contracting as a way to demonstrate their skills at a potential employer.
There are areas of opportunity across the construction and property industries. Here we outline some of these.
The recession had a crippling effect on the architectural industry as work dried up, leading to redundancies and some firms going out of business. However, whilst this is still a very uncertain area, jobs are starting to pick up, largely in London and the South East. Hays registered double the number of temporary architectural jobs in April 2010 compared to April 2009.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this increase was from a very low point, but it does indicate that architectural firms are getting more work. They may have actually cut staff too heavily during the recession, and may now be facing a situation in which they need staff in order to compete for and deliver projects, whilst keeping costs down. In this situation, hiring contract architectural professionals offers them the flexibility they need.
Property & surveying
Housing associations employ external private practices to carry out surveying activities, including GP valuation work. Using contract staff ensures that projects can be completed and costs managed, but with the flexibility to remain competitive should workloads fall.
Consultancies are actively looking for electrical and mechanical design engineers to help provide technical expertise on retrofit and new building development project works.
The drive towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions is creating roles in what is now viewed as the ‘green’ industry. As such, strong technical engineering skills are being sought in building sustainability, the renewables industry and the waste and wastewater industry. These skills are at a premium so many firms are seeking bringing in experience externally to provide the expertise required. In particular, professionals have been hired in contract positions to help deliver key projects such as AMP5 and work that arose from the Pitt Report.
Civil & Structural
Consultancies in this area seek to hire interim technical staff for housing developments. In addition, consultancies that work with retail establishments require such staff to help complete expansion plans.
With the need to cut spending significantly, some key areas public sector organisations will likely hire contract staff to enable the completion of essential projects, both within local and central government. As a result of head count freezes for permanent roles, more temp and contract positions are becoming available and more opportunities are appearing for contracting firms as projects and services are contracted out.