Massive job increases in London construction in the coming years
It’s no secret that constructing the facilities needed for the Olympics in 2012 will create a bonanza in construction, quantity surveying and site management jobs across the London area, but how is this likely to affect the overall employment market?
During the past decade, the London construction sector has experienced slow but steady growth in the number and value of major construction projects. However, as Olympics work comes on-stream during 2006, this is all due to change dramatically.
The Olympics are only part of the big picture…
According to CITB Construction Skills, the London Olympics will lead to more than 33,000 new construction jobs between now and 2012 - including some 2,800 quantity surveying jobs alone - with demand peaking at around 7,500 in 2010. The Olympics are only part of the story in the region however. While work on the Olympics is likely to account for as much as 10% of all construction activity in the region, other major projects will also fuel demand for skilled personnel. Work on both the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is likely to carry on well past 2008. In addition, the Thames Gateway regeneration scheme and the £10 billion Cross Rail project is expected to finally get started.
Constructing the Olympics
Staging the Olympics will call for a huge increase in investment on London’s infrastructure – something like 45% on current figures between 2007 and 2012 and, while the Olympics are taking centre stage at the moment, this doesn’t mean that other major infrastructure projects can be put on the back-burner until the last athlete has returned home. Thames Water for example, is pressing for clearance on substantial engineering works which, it maintains, are vital to prevent sewage backing up into the River Lea in the near future.
London’s Infrastructure Construction & Maintenance
Such infrastructure projects are supplemented by both public sector work and ongoing commercial influence to create a ‘pressure cooker’ environment within the confines of the M25. While there are fewer prestige projects such as London University Hospital and Barts in progress in the Health Service at present, a whole host of smaller enterprises are underway and seem likely to survive the current row over the NHS’ use of funds. In the education sector, the second wave of the £2.2 billion Building Schools for the Future programme has begun, while the city academies programme now has 14 projects live across the London area.
Office and Retail Construction & Refurbishment
In the office and retail sectors, short supply of accommodation means that opportunities for development are seized upon avidly. Land Securities for example has very recently initiated a £1.5 billion scheme in Victoria which, upon completion, will cover up to three city blocks. Further out in Hounslow, Phase 1 of the Blenheim Centre, part of the £220m regeneration of the town centre, has just topped out. Meanwhile in the housing arena, demand for property remains high despite a fairly sluggish market in the rest of the country. This is being primarily fuelled by the drive to create key worker housing, such as the English Partnership’s plan to build some 15,000 units across the city.
Will there be enough experienced staff to go round?
Given this level of activity, it’s perhaps not surprising that some forecasters are already asking how the market is going to cope with the sudden increase in demand for experienced staff. Director of Maxim Recruitment, Steve Thomas comments:
“If you go back to 2004, the CITB was already reporting that employers were finding it difficult to recruit skilled staff, and that was in a much quieter market with perhaps 20% fewer construction vacancies.”
Consequently, while it’s not really an option for quantity surveying firms which need very specific skill-sets and qualifications, many other employers in the capital are looking seriously to the new states of the European Union to fill engineering and construction jobs. The construction union, UCATT, has already voiced concern over this and there is now a round of petitioning to the government to only awards contracts to building, civil engineering and even quantity surveying companies who will provide funding to bring about a sharp increase in apprenticeships and other training schemes for local workers.
Looking for a role in building London’s exciting future?
Maxim Recruitment is currently recruiting quantity surveyors, project managers etc for a wide range of major building & infrastructure projects including the Olympics. Take a look at our database of London and UK wide construction jobs and see if there is anything you would like to discuss further with one of our experienced recruitment consultants on 0870 243 0446