Consultancy firms face a battle to hang on to their top quantity surveyors after Network Rail was allocated more money to employ more of its own staff
Chancellor Gordon Brown’s spending review, announced on Monday, promised the transport network a 4.5%-a-year increase in spending over the next three years – much of which will be spent on rail infrastructure. These are expected to be detailed in a government white paper published yesterday.
The increased rail budget will provide Network Rail with the means to offer more attractive packages for leading quantity surveyors.
Network Rail has long planned to set up its own multidisciplinary in-house team; it has already brought in 16,000 maintenance staff. It currently uses a panel of QSs appointed on a framework contract.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We are not going to rely on agencies and consultancy staff and we would like to have the resources in-house.”
The spokesperson said that Network Rail could offer quantity surveyors a specific role, clear career structure, commitment to training and the knowledge that the work they are doing is essential for the UK.
A transport spokesperson for a leading construction consultant said: “Network Rail’s recruitment of in-house staff has been going on for quite some time. However, it has not always been clear as to what their plan is.”
He added that consultancy firms needed to ensure they had a strong enough succession plan for their employees. He said: “The good people will always have a choice of where to go and the choice will get wider.”
We are not going to rely on agencies and consultancy staff and we would like to have the resources in-house
Ahead of the rail review due yesterday, consultancy firms were wary of the spending power of a competitor with a greatly increased workload.
Ken Davis, director of transport at consultant Cyril Sweett, said there was uncertainty over which projects Network Rail would work on, what funds were available and how many people they would want to take on.
He added: “However, if Network Rail wants to build up their in-house expertise, they will have to compete in the market and offer attractive packages and opportunities to compete with the consultancies.”
Another source at a company that offers Network Rail secondment staff said: “The industry is very much in flux and the uncertainty is such that we are not really at a stage where we can make sensible comment. We’re still forming our own opinions.”
However, Tim Jones, the managing director of the transport division of consultant Schofield Lothian, is enthusiastic about Network Rail’s increased spending power. He said: “We have been working on rail infrastructure since 1994 and, in my opinion, there will always be a need for the support services we offer.”
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