Some fantastic schemes in the North-east are looking for people to deliver them. Robert Smith of Hays Construction & Property reports on this booming market
High-profile projects and regeneration schemes throughout the North-east have had a significant impact on the local construction industry. The largest project under way in the region is a regeneration scheme in Sunderland, headed up by Sunderland Arc, a public-private consortium. A 15-year plan valued at over £1.4bn, the scheme will redevelop some of the most neglected areas near the city centre and along the river. There are eight planned regeneration areas, comprising residential, retail, light industrial, commercial, office and leisure developments.
Over recent months, Hull is enjoying a dramatic increase in the number of major private sector construction projects. One of these is the Ferensway scheme headed up by HBG Construction, valued at more than £160m. Set to generate 2500 permanent jobs and transform Hull city centre, the 40-acre development comprises an integrated transport interchange, a shopping and leisure complex including about 30 shops and stores, new homes for the Hull Truck Theatre and the Albemarle Music Centre, a hotel, and a residential quarter.
Projects such as these have created a high demand for qualified workers from a variety of sectors and career backgrounds. Building surveyors, project managers and senior estimators are just some of the positions that are being sourced from a limited candidate pool.
As a direct result of these shortages, salaries in the North-east are starting to come in line with national averages. To attract qualified candidates and negate counter-offer scenarios, companies have increased salaries by an average of 8% across the region. Building surveyors have enjoyed a marked increase in their salaries over the past 12 months, as companies look for individuals with more varied experience and a comprehensive understanding of the building process - for example, requesting that project managers come from a building surveying background. In Newcastle, salaries have increased 12% for building surveyors, and 10% for project managers.
However, not all roles are experiencing such high demand. Currently the North-east is seeing a slight oversupply of site-based professionals including foremen, finishing foremen and site managers.
Hays Construction & Property recently filled a position for a finishing foreman with a starting salary of £34,000 and an excellent benefits package. The client requested that the applicant have a minimum of five years' experience in a civils background - incorporating groundworks and levelling. "Because of the large supply of qualified candidates in the area, we were able to find a suitable candidate for this role very quickly," says Iain McCabe of Hays Construction & Property. "The successful applicant had more than 10 years' experience from a civils background, was local, and was looking to make a move from contract to permanent work."
Success stories such as these have become common in an industry where demand is high. Many individuals are relocating back to the North-east to take advantage of these favourable conditions - attracted by good salaries, affordable living, and an abundance of available work. This is good news for employers who are working hard to meet their deadlines, and for the professionals they employ who have decided to take advantage of the booming market.
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