So, what are we doing here? As a relatively new company within the apparently bustling construction recruitment sector, what better to discuss than the reason for this boom within the recruitment industry. If the general viewpoint of the media is to be believed, there’s no room for new companies in construction. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s GDP shrank 0.7% for the second time, in the second quarter of 2012, meaning only one thing – a return to recession. The construction sector didn’t escape the clutches of the crippled economy as it also suffered a 4% fall in general output in the second quarter, compared with January to March. Notwithstanding this, Trademark Recruitment and similarly youthful agencies defiantly fly in the face of these worrying stats. We all know the justification for recruitment agencies but there are less obvious reasons for the buoyant position of fledgling agencies in 2012.
The first impression of the 4% drop was that it was not as bad as first feared. The ONS had predicted a far sharper fall due to a fall in public infrastructure projects and the dire state of the housing market. However, the construction sector seemed to be over performing. But how long could this be sustained? The uncertainty surrounding the productivity within the construction market has only gone to further bolster the position of agencies. A number of our clients have agreed that they can’t make the commitment to employ permanent members of staff, only to terminate their contract when work dries up. A huge amount of temporary and contract workers have found this to be in their advantage this year. Many of my clients and their employers have made decisions to not take on any more direct employees and, if their workload expands, then they’d supplement their own labour with temporary and contract staff. This is the very essence of temporary/seasonal recruitment. However, the uncertainty within the market, particularly in recession, has meant that companies already conscious of their financial frailties are unwilling to take risks in directly employing permanent staff.
What we have found to be a major reason in providing an excellent service is the availability of quality tradesmen due to mass redundancies. Over the past year or so we’ve all watched on in disbelief as companies like Rok, WJ Harte, Brown Construction Group and UBC Group have gone to the wall, shedding thousands of skilled workers in the process. Trademark has been lucky enough to snap up some of these workers who come with a plethora of construction qualifications and experience to boot. It goes without saying that this is another example of how fledgling agencies such as Trademark are beginning to make waves of their own in the construction market.
What’s particularly worrying about the fall in output in the second quarter is the fact that, generally, the construction industry should expand within the second quarter of the year. Typically, for the purposes of temporary recruitment, agencies should see numbers, at the very least, double in June in comparison to those numbers in February and March. This was certainly the case for Trademark this year and has been the case for as long as I can remember when working for previous employers. According to us at Trademark, we feel that the “wettest summer in 100 years” was undoubtedly something to smile about. Many of our clients are civil engineering and brickwork contractors; subdivisions of the construction sector whose output can be severely affected by adverse weather conditions. Through conversations with our clients, we’ve been told on numerous occasions that the inclement weather, and subsequent delay to works, has caused our clients to recruit on a temporary day-to-day basis as opposed to employing permanent staff, resulting in increased sales numbers and revenue.
Other agencies may have their own reasons for apparently over performing in a market where we’re surrounded by doom-and-gloom stories on a day-to-day basis. I feel that, along with good recruitment practice and loyal clients, we’ve found that the factors above have eased us into our first year of Trademark. These are particularly testing times for construction and, until the government can sit up and start making serious attempts at recovering the failing housing market, there appears to be no let-up in sight. Until then, we’ll happily make the most of the dreich weather to see us through.