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Overview on the growth of the construction and civil market in London.


Overview on the growth of the construction and civil market in London. An interview by Scott Siwicki, Director Strategic Accounts & Emerging Markets


House prices in London historically out-perform those throughout the rest of the country, with prices in Central London alone reported to be 30% higher than what they were before the recession. What impact has the UK Government's Help to Buy scheme had and how do you see this developing over the next 12 months? 
The Government's Help to Buy Phase II scheme has now allowed current home owners as well as first time buyers to use the scheme, with lending allowed up to £600k. First reports suggest that this has helped the buy-to-let market and therefore the housing market in general, but surprisingly it is more at the lower end of borrowing (less than £200k) than the top. Either way, there remains a depleted and significant lack of housing stock at all prices which must be addressing if we are going to be able to stimulate further growth in the supply chain from land buyers through construction, house building and supporting infrastructure companies. In November, reports stated that house building sites were at their greatest number for several years and Boris Johnson pledge to add over 40,000 new homes in the capital over the next 10 years will certainly help. However, this investment needs to be sufficiently large enough committed to over a long period of time in order to cope with demand.

London's population is expanding rapidly, with the capital's population expected to reach 10 million by 2030 – some 3.2 million more than what it was in 1981. What impact will this have on the construction and civil market in London over the next few years? 
In 1981 the number of people living in London was 6.9m whereas today it stands at around 8.3m – rising by some 600,000 since Boris Johnson became Lord Mayor in 2008. He will go some way to assist with this growth with his pledge to build 40,000 homes per year in London and in addition to housing, there are also a number of other major construction projects already underway to overcome the city's antiquated transport system. For instance, the Crossrail project has now completed 15 of the 26 miles of new rail tunnels which when completed in 2018, will link Berkshire to Essex via Heathrow and central London. Crossrail II is a project that if given the green light, will pick up where Crossrail will have left off by improving the north-south transport links and cater for an extra 100,000 passenger journeys in rush hour; thereby freeing up congestion on a number of the tube lines, spreading London’s workforce further out of the main city and into areas where investment and infrastructure will be delivered by private equity to meet demand. Looking further into the future, were HS2 to happen, again commuting would change and the investment and works that lead from all of these projects are a tremendous boost and fillip to the current 'book of work', so this can only be seen as positive. One key factor to consider is how we can cope with an ageing workforce and a lack of skills required to meet these needs. We are experts in proving solutions to these immediate needs but again investment in schools, collages, apprenticeships etc. will all benefit and aid any companies and people involved in the supply chain

The London Olympics stimulated the construction industry in the run up to 2012, but with the Games now a thing of the past what key developments can the capital expect to see in the coming years?
In addition to those mentioned above, the capital will see a number of major construction projects coming to fruition over the next few years, including the Thames Tunnel, continued increases in housing stock, high end residential schemes for foreign buyers, and the Nine Elms development on the South Bank and Elephant & Castle developments. Town planning in the outer suburbs is also a focus for developers as is the London Hub airport scheme and the widening of M25 – a project which has been underway for the last few years. There are plenty of great schemes currently with labour onsite as well as in planning and funding stages to keep the workforce expanding at least until the end of the decade. Also Douglas Alexander outlined the Government's 20-year plan of £375bn in investment in energy, transport, communications, and water projects.

What impact do you think this will have on employment prospects within the construction sector? What are the recruitment intentions of employers? 
This will have a tremendous effect in boosting both the need for permanent hires and also for contract staff to cover peaks and troughs. It will enable long term planning and investment in the sector for employers, recruiters and educators. As previously mentioned, this will stretch existing resources with the possibility of those leaving the sector returning and looking to up-skill those at home and import skills from abroad. Recruitment intentions are unclear at the moment as much of this work has yet to be awarded, so at the moment bid and commercial teams are focusing on 'winning' the work and once secured, they can then focus their attentions to recruiting for the positions they need to fill. 

London has long been seen as a 'safe haven' from the Eurozone crisis, which has seen foreigners make up a large share of the capital's property buyers. Do you see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future?
Absolutely. For the precise reason mentioned and our strong growth forecasts plus all of the benefits that London provides as one of the world’s leading city’s. When delivering the annual Margaret Thatcher lecture in November, Boris Johnson called for all the "Gordon Gekkos of London" to display their greed to promote economic growth. That pretty much serves as a precursor for what we anticipate will happen over the next few years.  
 
What are employers doing to attract and retain high quality candidates? What should they be doing?
Not enough. Simply having a major project to work on is a major factor but being an employer of choice goes a long way to ensure retention. Emulate companies like Mott MacDonald, Wilmot Dixon or Iceland. With retention comes a more productive workforce that is proud and one that consistently over delivers to its customers and clients. Embrace flexible working packages, up skilling competency’s, programmes where employees can work in alternative roles to learn new skills.

What are the key challenges moving forward for both jobseekers and employers?
An aging population combined with a skills shortage is affecting availability for employers. For candidates, the challenge is to be more productive and innovative to process or change as all projects try to save money through development.

What advice would you give to jobseekers in the current market? 
Focus on your achievements in post, be flexible and on the front foot as an employee - if you can manage and create a diverse portfolio of skills or be seen as the go-to person to get tasks complete then you will be needed. Embrace the new technology and understand that they need to be outward facing at all times, now is the time for client and public liaison, collaboration and working together for a goal for all.

How is Anderselite perceived in the marketplace?
As a professional, ethical, honest and competent supplier. We have strengths in construction, notably civil and rail, but also areas of key expertise in aligned industries such as design, architecture and HSQE. We are established and with that comes expertise and the ability to produce results as needed.

What makes Anderselite the agency of choice for candidates and clients alike?
Excellent service and the ability to listen to our clients and aligning our expertise to their specific needs. We are committed to our clients by working all the jobs that we get to the 'nth degree and ensuring that we keep the client informed of market access and rates to allow them to make informed decisions over hiring and if that ideal candidate is out there for them. We want to delight our customers every time.

How long have you been working at Anderselite?
8 years, during which time I have run a rail team, London & Bristol locations, national accounts programme and our managed staffing programmes.

What attracted you to work for the company?
Brand recognition and reputation. Anderselite celebrates its 30th year trading in 2013 in the built environment and we are recognised as market leaders within this sector. This has enabled us to gain access to clients that many other providers are unable to do and throughout our 30 year history it is fair to say that we have probably worked with most people in the industry either as a candidate, a hiring manager or with their employers as a supplier. Lastly, the company offers a unique opportunity to become a specialist in this field and innovative in the solutions we are able to provide to both clients and candidates alike.

What makes you continue your career with the company?
Firstly the people we work with and stand shoulder to shoulder with every day. This is a the team that listens, qualifies, designs, implements and delivers the service to our end candidate or client. Working and enjoying what we do every day comes across in our actions with our clients. Furthermore the diversity that the role entails from operational granular management to designing, selling and implementing grand managed programmes where you can see that you are making a visible difference to our clients.

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