White-collar construction staff turn in desperation to Iraq and Afghanistan, reveals recruitment agency

British white-collar construction workers are so desperate for work, they are seeking jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan, a specialist recruitment agency has revealed.

Zoiren International said roles such as site managers and project directors were regularly receiving over 3,000 applicants, more than double the number this time last year.

Nick Fishlock, director of the agency, said he was now getting more responses to job adverts than when his firm operated in the United Arab Emirates during its boom years in 2006-07.

He said: “We noticed a rise in replies to job adverts for Iraq and Afghanistan towards the end of last year, and this year we’ve seen a huge increase. The UK construction market is suffering from a huge oversupply of people, and both Iraq and Afghanistan have remained relatively immune from the global downturn.”

The workers are just desperate for these jobs so they don’t
have to leave the industry

Nick Fishlock

Although the firm is international, about 40% of the people it recruits are British.

On average, a UK site manager in Iraq or Afghanistan can expect to earn a minimum of £3,720 a month, while a project director’s salary is up to £8,680 a month.

Fishlock said senior workers are mostly housed in hotels, but site managers often stay in tents on site. Workers usually choose to work seven-day weeks with two half-day rests, as there is little to entertain them outside work.

He added that the firm regularly receives applications from people with no experience outside the UK in spite of specifying a requirement for experience in “difficult” areas like Iraq. He said: “I regularly get applications from guys who’ve only worked in England as project managers for small building contractors. They’re just desperate for these jobs so they don’t have to leave the industry, but the vast majority aren’t useable.”