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UK & International Construction Recruitment in 2012

As the Year of the Dragon gets underway, there is a sense of anticipation for the coming year in the construction industry, particularly in Hong Kong and many parts of Asia. While 2011 has proven to be a mixed year for many in construction around the world, 2012 if you know where to look, seems to offer more promise.  A number of likely trends can be predicted- read on to find out more, and enjoy a successful year ahead!

1.    Different Trends in Construction Growth Around the World
2.    The Desire for Language skills in Construction
3.    Talent Retention Issues
4.    Talent Attraction Issues
5.    Mobile Devices & Social Media in Construction Recruitment

1. Different Trends in Construction Growth Around the World
One macro issue in the construction industry remains the imbalance between the continuing slowdown in the UK, Europe and much of the Middle East against the return to growth in the infrastructure sector in Asia, most notably in Hong Kong, China, Malaysia & India.  Isolated opportunities do exist in most locations around the world, however 2012 is likely to be a great year for much of the construction industry in Hong Kong with significant growth in the requirement for staff as this article details.

In recession hit markets such as the UK, Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc., construction companies and their employees have been holding on as best they can.  However, many are now seeing that  the return to growth remains elusive & that prospects in Asia may be much better in both the short & long term. The recruitment consultants at Maxim certainly think so. We have been based in Hong Kong for over a year now & are helping increasing numbers of employers find additional staff both from Hong Kong and around the world, all with essential construction experience. We remain loyal to our long-standing clients and candidates however and are still doing steady business in the UK & Middle East construction markets.

2. The Desire for Language Skills in Construction
2012 onwards certainly offers bilingual construction professionals great opportunities to work in Hong Kong and in many parts of Asia.  Good candidates in engineering, quantity surveying, project management, estimating, planning and claims/dispute work who also speak fluent English combined with Cantonese or Mandarin or other Asian languages will be in very high demand. Even candidates without any Hong Kong construction experience but who speak Cantonese or Mandarin will have a great chance of employment and fast progression in the Hong Kong construction industry at the moment.

3. Talent Retention Issues
As ever, the best construction organisations are often the ones with the most stable core of highly capable long term staff. It is always easier to keep good employees rather than have to replace them – it can also be cheaper to retain such staff too, even at a higher salary level. For employers to do this in a proactive rather than reactive way this usually means initiating 6 monthly salary reviews and regular performance appraisals plus training & career mapping. It also means not taking your staff for granted.  For employees it means that issues such as excessively long working hours, tiring commuting, limited benefits or disappointing bonuses don't have to be the norm. In Asia there are roles available for most good calibre individuals with reasonable expectations as our website clearly demonstrates.

4. Talent Attraction Issues
The construction jobs market has always been a ‘merry-go-round’ to a degree, however when a particular market is in a boom phase the rate of inter-company movement speeds up.  Clearly the trick is to entice the best employees over by identifying them and offering them both better money & better prospects than are available elsewhere.  We have noticed for example that in Hong Kong that main contractors with major MTR projects in accessible locations are finding it relatively easy to attract staff, while subcontractors on more remote/rural jobs are losing their previously loyal long term staff to them.  We covered the employers' 8 ways to maximise candidate hiring success in a previous blog.

5. Mobile Devices & Social Media in Construction Recruitment
Finally, it would be impossible not to remark on the further influence that both social media and the use of mobile devices in recruitment and talent acquisition will have in 2012 and beyond.  This is set to become an even more important way of accessing & harnessing scarce construction industry talent.  The construction industry may not be leading edge in this area, but we can learn a lot from recruiters in other sectors who adopted these methods early in the field. All serious construction industry employers and recruiters should have an active strategy to market themselves over online social networks where great candidates can be found.  Construction employers would do well to consider whether they are using a forward looking recruitment representative to ensure all possible candidates are being accessed.  We would like to think that we can help with your strategy and outcomes in this area.

The growth in the use of mobile devices by potential jobseekers also needs to be noted. Ipads, Galaxy Tabs, iphones and smartphones are all becoming a standard way of communication between potential employees, recruiters and employers. With this in mind, please let us know your preferred platform for engaging in recruitment activity by voting in our LinkedIn poll at: http://linkd.in/w3NV3q

Summary
2012 will be a year where we think the above trends will play a major part in the development of the construction recruitment sector.  Clearly we are all also pretty keen for more widespread economic stability & economic growth to return across the globe.

Best wishes for 2012 & 'The Year of the Dragon' & I hope we will cross paths in the coming year!

Best regards,
Steve Thomas
Maxim Recruitment
31/1/2012

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