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Recruitment trends in Construction and Rail

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 year ago
  • Author: Ben Taylor

​In our 2022 vs 2023 recruitment trends report we considered what the hiring landscape may look like in the coming year. Morson Market Analyst, Dr Gareth Owen examines recruitment trends spanning January – April 23 across four key industries; construction, technology, rail, and aerospace, to provide an accurate picture of what’s happening in the industry right now.


by Dr Gareth Owen, Morson Market Analyst
Across most sectors, there is an uncertain economic outlook due to geopolitical tensions, Brexit obstacles and the ongoing shadow of the pandemic that has led to rising interest rates, rising costs for businesses & consumers, talent shortages and supply chain challenges.

While a bleak economic outlook, cost of living crisis, and political turmoil have been grabbing the headlines around the world, fundamental changes have continued to take place, shaping the world of work in new ways, bringing new challenges and, critically, new solutions.

The trends I’ve identified in these reports, drawn from a rich database of Morson candidate data, expert conversations and insight from global sources, highlight key micro and macro socio-economic factors affecting the current state of the workplace and what it means for the labour market of tomorrow.

Many of these trends will persist beyond the near-term fluctuations in the business cycle, the goal of these reports is to support employers as they navigate a turbulent talent landscape.

Momentum builds in construction

The construction industry in the UK is gaining momentum, with the S&P Global/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index showing a rise for two consecutive months. Commercial construction was the best-performing sector, but residential building work has declined for the third month in a row.

The REC Labour Market Tracker revealed that the number of job adverts in the UK construction sector reached a 14-month high. However, there are challenges to capitalising on the increased demand, with the CITB/Build UK report stating that an additional 45,000 workers per year are required to meet the growing demand. Consequently, there are requests for the government to include five construction roles in the UK Government Shortage Occupation List and bring in foreign workers to replace those lost due to Brexit.

Read the full Construction report

A mixed bag of optimism & dispute on the track

The rail industry in the UK is making progress as passenger demand has improved following the pandemic, leading to a rise in orders. However, political challenges have hindered growth, and delays in the HS2 project aimed at reducing costs have demonstrated that project delays can increase expenses over the long term.

The Transport Secretary announced plans in February 2023 to revamp the railways in the UK, which were described as financially unsustainable and unfit for purpose. The proposals involve the private sector playing a more significant role in restoring financial stability post-Covid. Additionally, industrial disputes in the rail sector have added to the pressure, with City & Guilds and NSAR reporting a need to hire an additional 120,000 workers by 2030.

Read the full Rail report

Concluding thoughts

by Dr Gareth Owen, Morson Market Analyst
While there is cause for concern, businesses across all sectors should be hopeful about the future.

The UK economy narrowly avoided a recession in 2022 but this will be of little comfort to people suffering from a continuing cost of living crisis and the country remains at risk of a recession in 2023 according to the OBR and The Treasury, despite a slight improvement noted by the chancellor in his spring budget.

There has been a succession of disappointing news on diversity, most notably a rise in the average gender pay gap over the last 5 years. The UK Government has not offered a beacon of support on gender equality either, rejecting five of the recommendations from the Women and Equalities Committee report on menopause. Progress has also stalled on the representation of people from Black Caribbean backgrounds and women in STEM, according to MP’s, through the Parker Review announced new targets for the ethnic diversity of the management team at FTSE 350 companies.

The UK Labour Market is on shaky ground as employers continue to struggle with filling open vacancies, particularly for permanent roles but there is optimism about growing employee numbers. Candidate attraction issues and the cost of living crisis are feeding through into strong growth in rates of starting pay for both permanent and temporary roles.

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