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Strong outlook for UK property and surveying market, yet skills shortages linger

By Richard Gelder, Director of Hays Construction & Property

It’s safe to say that as we reach the middle of 2017, despite the uncertainty following the Brexit announcement which caused a slowdown in the number of projects going ahead in the latter part of 2016, this year has seen the property and surveying sector spring back to confidence and we expect this level of positivity to continue.

In fact, the REC recruitment board is reporting that we are on a 22 month high in job registrations as the market remains busy despite the recent general election and impending Brexit negotiations. However, there is an underlying caution amongst the sector as the residential market sees a dip in sales and the economy remains unpredictable.

Demand is high but candidates aren’t budging

Acute candidate shortages continue to remain one of the biggest challenges as we head into the second half of 2017 and there are no signs of this letting up anytime soon.

Salaries have risen across the UK because of these shortages and candidates are aware of their market worth and therefore better placed to negotiate on salary, particularly as counter offers become increasingly common. Professionals need to be offered the complete package of competitive pay, flexible benefits, cultural fit and clear career development opportunities if they are to consider moving jobs, according to our recent report, What Workers Want 2017.

Looking across the sector all surveying roles remain in high demand. Many of these professionals are happy to stay in their current role as employers work hard to retain their best employees. Salaries are very competitive right from junior level and unless already actively looking, there just aren’t enough professionals keen to move jobs.

Different regions have experienced slightly different levels of job flow in different sectors but generally PQS continues to be busier than general practice across the UK.

There remains a shortage of Building Surveyors; partly due to the legacy issue of the recession, which saw many organisations not recruiting or investing in APC training and as a result of this, a gap was created. The gap is closing although a buoyant market means finding suitable RICS Building Surveyors is a huge challenge.

With the introduction of IR35 this year, we have also found that candidates who are working on a temporary or contract basis in the public sector are now more open to looking at permanent positions.

Looking ahead

The construction and property market continued with business as usual through the election and looking ahead the market is predicted to remain busy, whilst an air of caution is felt by employers. However, it’s encouraging to see that more employers are being proactive and offering competitive salaries and benefits.

In some instances, creating new positions for candidates who aren’t suitable for a current opening but are highly talented and worth holding on to could help future expansion. Also, taking on junior professionals and investing in training and development programmes, will help to close widening skills gaps and candidate shortages. Training and development initiatives could also encourage more people into the profession.

At a time where we don’t know what is to come from Brexit negotiations, it is imperative that organisations look to build a strong team for the future from now if they haven’t already started doing so.

To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Richard leads specialist recruiting consultants across the sector. He joined Hays in 1991 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was appointed Director in 2001.

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