COVID-19 has impacted many industries, and construction is no different. From site closures to supply chain issues, with new safety measures mass enforced site-wide across the UK, it’s fair to say that disruption has been common.
Construction was one of the quickest industries to reopen after the first UK lockdown, with the government never officially mandating that they must close. In May 2020, they subsequently announced an extension of site working hours to ensure that minimal labourers were required onsite to allow for social distancing, with project deadlines still able to be met.
Despite being one of the quickest sectors to reopen after the early stages of lockdown, and one that has remained open for the rest of the year, lost productivity and subsequent project completion delays have affected the sector. So what impact has this had on overall recruitment? Search Construction & Property delved into our datasets to find out more.
A slight increase in temporary construction jobs
Our data shows that there was a considerable upsurge in available construction jobs between Q2 and Q3 2020 but a drop in the average number of applications per role. Meanwhile, the number of applications green-flagged rose by almost 3%.
Paul Kynaston, Search Construction & Property MD, said, “In general, across blue collar staffing we have seen a big increase in short-term temporary positions, usually lasting no longer than one week. Workers filling these positions would normally expect be in more settled roles with longer duration. This creates the challenge of getting people to commit to roles wholeheartedly and we are seeing more people move out of an industry that is already starved of talent.”
Year-on-Year, between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020, there was a 44% drop in jobs posted but a 48% increase in the average number of applications per role. Here, the percentage of green-flagged applications rose by an average of around 6%.
Number of applications per selected jobs:
Labourers – Significant downturn comparing year-on year, but 119% increase between Q2/Q3 2020.
Cleaners – Only uptick was recorded between Q3 2019 and Q2 2020 of 61%.
On the increase in applications for cleaning roles, Paul said, “Most projects have invested in keeping facilities clean and COVID-secure leading to a major upsurge in demand for cleaning operatives. Whereas we’d normally see one part-time cleaner employed on a project, we’re now seeing multiple full-time roles being created.”
Site Managers – Available data shows uptick between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020 of 78%.
Providing insight into what this surge in applications means for the sector, Paul added, “There has been a significant increase in the number of infrastructure sector roles placed with us and we have successfully filled an above average number of positions. However, with these more white-collar roles, we are not only seeing a substantial increase in the number of applicants but also in the number of candidates taken to interview. This is making competition for jobs fierce with clients often struggling to differentiate between candidates.”
Worryingly, in the past 6 months, 58% of construction workers have experienced poor mental health with 28% identifying work or job status being a significant factor.
Commenting, Paul said, “Blue collar workers who work in temporary assignments are now living with almost constant uncertainty. Many are living week to week and unable to plan properly for the future. The anxiety caused by this coupled with the stress of having to find a new role almost every week is impacting on the mental health of construction workers in this arena.”
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