The CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has long been regarded as a critical indicator of the health of the UK construction sector. The good news is that the PMI has been climbing for some time, and in January it reached 64.6 – its highest level since the financial crisis. On the back of this positive trend, Barrat and Redrow have both reported a rise in pre-tax profits of more than 100% for the latter half of 2013. So what’s driving this new wave of activity? A combination of factors are working to energise the construction sector, not least of which are consistently low interest rates and the growth in employment. And although it’s less easy to quantify, a rise in consumer confidence is playing its part too.
Interest rates are of course key, and today’s low interest rate environment has been instrumental in driving growth in the house building sector, as buyers appear more willing to take on additional borrowing. The banks are playing an important role too, as they begin to relax their extremely tight lending criteria. The house building sector has also enjoyed a significant boost from the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which has been cited by a number of firms as helping to bring first-time buyers back to the market. Yet the growth in construction isn’t limited to house building. In fact, it is a broad based resurgence, with significant new activity seen in the commercial and civil engineering sectors too.
It seems a very long time since the construction industry has been able to report such a wealth of good news, and it appears that despite a number of false starts, what we’re now seeing is sustainable growth built on firm foundations and supported by a relatively benign economic environment. This is reflected in strong jobs growth in the sector, yet although this is clearly very good news, it could ultimately act as a check on expansion.
As the construction industry contracted over a number of years, a significant number of the sector’s most talented people left to pursue their careers in associated industries, and not surprisingly, many of them now exhibit a mild reluctance to rejoin the sector. Those who left were frequently the industry’s most able and experienced people – those who could most easily find employment in other, closely related sectors. And this means that these are precisely the people the industry now needs if the new growth is to be sustained.
If firms are to succeed in attracting these highly skilled professionals back into the industry, they will undoubtedly require the services of specialised construction recruitment consultants or construction headhunters. Only the most proactive and well connected construction recruitment firms will have maintained their relationships with key people in the industry, no matter where they have gone, so these executive search firms have a critical role to play in helping the construction industry get back on track.
Stone Executive has an enviable record of recruiting talented leaders and managers across diverse subsectors within the construction industry. As one of the UK’s leading construction executive search firms, we have worked long and hard throughout both boom and downturn, fulfilling diverse recruitment assignments and helping our clients to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing marketplace. As construction companies now seek to appoint new executives and senior managers, as well as project professionals and technical staff, Stone Executive is ideally placed to help firms identify and acquire the kind of talent that will help them take full advantage of this new wave of growth.
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