Just graduated and looking for a job? We asked recruitment consultant Hays Montrose what kind of construction graduates are in demand in different parts of the UK
North-west and Yorkshire
Adrian Adair of Hays’ Warrington office says: “At the moment we are seeing a huge demand for assistant QSs on the site side. Contractor Amec take on a lot of graduates in the Warrington and Birchwood areas.”
“It’s QSs here,” says Steve Lais, section manager at Hays Cardiff. “There’s such a shortage that getting hold of decent QSs is a real issue. There are graduates out there, but most of them have been snapped up during their degree, often by the company that they worked for during their sandwich course. It’s a job that’s critical to the industry, and they’ve always been difficult to get hold of – but anyone decent who’s looking for QS work in this area will go somewhere sharpish.”
And there’s more good news for new QSs who want to work in Wales: salaries for trainees have been creeping up over the past few years as firms find they have to pay premium rates to secure the staff they need for the many major projects in the region, such as the transformation of the Llandarcy oil refinery into Wales’ first “urban village”.
Dave Townsend of Hays Bristol says: “Quantity surveying is the number one discipline in demand, at all levels, but particularly for graduates. That goes for project QSs and those on the contractor side – any graduate QS is pretty much guaranteed a job. There is also a demand for site engineers and civil and structural engineers – clients are crying out for those at the moment. All of the main contractors have graduate training programmes now because they have to, and graduates who have done a sandwich course are in particularly high demand. But on the building surveying side, demand for graduate recruits has slowed down somewhat recently.”
Andrew Waters of Hays Newcastle says, “Graduates are generally in demand in surveying and architecture, and QSs, general practice surveyors and estates management are always in demand. Turner & Townsend has a good intake of graduates in this area, as does EC Harris. We place quite a number of students from Northumbria University as general practice surveyors and QSs, as they have done the Construction Management course there and it is highly regarded by our clients.
“We’ve also found recently that there’s a big demand for graduate project managers. If you have a building degree you can go straight into that. A lot of people fresh out of university have been railroaded into thinking they have to stick to their discipline, but they don’t necessarily have to be a building surveyor. Trainee site managers coming straight from site management courses are popular as well.
“On the contracting side, again QSs are in the highest demand. Just today we had four offers on a new graduate QS – every company that interviewed her, wanted to recruit her!”
The government’s push on building more homes is creating strong demand for graduates in the Midlands, says Adam Kohl of Hays’ Leicester office.
“If you look at the government’s social housing plans, they want to spend millions in the next few years,” he says. “That means companies like Lovell and Connaught, which do a lot of work in this sector, have work stacked up for the next few years.
“Structural engineers are heavily in demand around here. So are QSs and CAD technicians.”
Carl Wright of Hays Cambridge says, “Graduate civil and structural engineers are in huge demand. If you have a good design background and interest in working for a consultancy, there’s always a job available.”
Nick Christian, also in the Cambridge office, says: “We’re very busy finding graduate surveyors of all grades. Most of our clients want people who can hit the ground running but companies are crying out for quantity surveyors and building surveyors at any level, and are willing to take on fresh grads. Architecture is also very busy for Part 1 and Part 2 people, and those who have done an HNC in building studies.”
“The main demand in London is for civil and structural engineers, and to a lesser extent for assistant site or project managers and surveyors who have recently graduated,” says Bill Chitty of Hays’ office in central London. “Many of our clients are looking for engineers: these range from large civil engineering or infrastructure companies right down to the smaller, more regionally-based subcontractors for groundworks engineering.
“Mace and Bovis are often looking for site and project managers at graduate level. The demand for surveyors is more infrequent, though.”
There’s only one university in Glasgow that offers an honours degree in quantity surveying, so demand for honours graduates in that area is far outstripping supply. There is also a shortage of civil engineers with a B Eng degree.
Around Edinburgh, there is high demand for graduates with degrees in civil transportation engineering. Sara Zorriasatein of Hays’ Glasgow office says: “Generally they come from Napier University, but the degree doesn’t provide them with any beneficial practical experience. A lot of our clients tend to take on graduates from Ireland as they have got the practical experience gained while studying and the modules that they study prove more beneficial when applied on a working basis. There is a high demand for graduate engineers, but there is a general lack of available candidates of sufficient quality. This is primarily because it would appear fewer people are doing civil/structural engineering courses.”
Eilidh Cameron adds: “The area of demand within architecture in the public sector is for candidates with AutoCAD skills. CAD technicians are usually started on a temporary basis and then kept on long-term.”
In Northern Ireland, a lack of quality college courses in construction means there is a dearth of graduates in all disciplines, says Roisin Byrne, manager of the Belfast branch of Hays. “There is maybe one course at the university in building services,” she says, “so we have an acute shortage of people with building services qualifications – but the situation’s the same right across the board; we looking for civil and structural engineering graduates as well. We see quite a few people returning after they’ve gone to England to do their degree, but we don’t see many graduates coming across from Britain because wages aren’t always as good over here.”
“There is good job security, though,” adds senior manager John Moore. And he points out that good wage and benefits packages are available to those graduates brave enough to shop around: “Project QSs are highlighting that graduates are going to contractors because they get more money. Some subcontractors are even willing to offer a car as well.”