Building division executives go to South Africa to try to recruit surveyors and site managers.
Hertfordshire-based contractor Fitzpatrick is the latest UK firm to look overseas for recruits to ease its skills shortages.

Executives have been in South Africa for a week looking for 20 surveyors and site managers. Simon Burton, managing director of the division, said it had received 200 high-quality applications.

Firms such as WS Atkins, Parkman and Kier are also looking at South Africa, along with Asia, Australia and New Zealand, for the same reasons.

Burton said turnover of the building arm had grown from £74m to £100m over 12 months. He said this was because it was focusing on higher-value contracts such as schools and hospitals. The average value of contracts has more than doubled from £3.5m to £7.5m.

He said: "We're not doing any more jobs than before, they are just more complex and harder."

We’re not doing any more jobs than before, they’re just more complex

Simon Burton, Fitzpatrick

Burton added that Fitzpatrick's decision last year to boost its building services team to 16 was paying dividends. "We're winning M&E and design and planning work we wouldn't have won earlier because we now have extra capability."

Fitzpatrick has offices in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, Sevenoaks, Kent, and London, and plans to open others in Birmingham and Southampton. Burton said the Birmingham office, which opens this month, would have a turnover of £15m.

The Southampton office is expected to be open by the end of the year and will be a base for work Fitzpatrick has already won in the south, including a £21m train maintenance facility for Siemens.