Author: Dan Foster
It was only last week when I was watching Wimbledon and the cameraman provided a shot of Centre Court and in the skyline, dotted throughout, were a myriad of cranes.
Over the course of the past 12 months Directors and Academics have echoed concern about the state of the UK Construction industry; predominantly as a result of Brexit and more recently, the General Election.
However, over the past month I have had some extremely encouraging and positive conversations with a number of Directors* who have provided me with first-hand insight into the current state of affairs within the Quantity Surveying industry.
On Wednesday 12th July, I got a call from Director 1’s mobile and he asked how I was getting on with the search for an intermediate/project level Quantity Surveyor, ideally with Contract Administration experience. The Quantity Surveyor will also act as the link between Directors and Graduate/Assistant Quantity Surveyors.
We speak honestly and openly about the skill shortage and how it is becoming increasing harder to source new, talented Quantity Surveyors. We discussed this further before he told me that that they had won another project; this one a residential project in Luton and that he now needs a Senior Quantity Surveyor as well.
Director 2 is part of an extremely successful Consultancy located a short drive from Gatwick, Surrey. We were discussing how everything was and it became very apparent early on that the Consultancy need a couple of self-manageable Quantity Surveyors – ideally, 4+ years’ experience who would be looking to carry out ‘pre’ and ‘post’ contract work autonomously (but with some supervision).
After discussing the ideal Quantity Surveyor, we began speaking about the projects/workload. Within seconds I was blown away with the extensive portfolio of projects they are currently working on and also a number of schemes that are yet to begin work – thus the need for new Quantity Surveyors.
Director 3 and I, arranged for a chat on Friday 7th July to catch up and see how one another were and to discuss work. You won’t be surprised to hear that he has been extremely busy because of an overload of projects, usually valuing up to £200 million. The Director went on to say how he also needs someone to help with the work load!
It is evident from all 3 conversations that the Construction industry continues to grow.
More Cranes = More Projects
What is also clear is that the need for good Quantity Surveyors is as real as it has ever been and the skill shortage remains.
Ultimately the shortage of Quantity Surveyors is causing, what we believe, to be an unsustainable salary bubble that may well cause issues in the longer term. My MD and I, spoke the other day about the situation in the UAE prior to the downturn and the devastating impact still being felt out there now.
I’ve recently heard that a Consultant was accused of inflating the salary of someone they were helping for their own gain! Ironically the polar opposite is the reality. A candidate with an over inflated salary is difficult or even impossible to ‘place’ despite the skill shortage. In this instance, the business will not make any money and neither will the consultant.
I totally understand how these higher salaried situations must sit from your perspective as an employer and a Consultancy to whom margin is so critical but I promise you salaries are not driven up by recruiters but by a desperation for companies to attract and or often just RETAIN their current QS team. Every candidate we speak to ‘has a mate at……….’ Earning £10k more than them. Again, this isn’t the fault of the companies specifically but more widely the industry and government failing to foresee a problem that has been so blatantly looming for some time.