Confidence Spreading Throughout the Building Services market

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2009 was a mixed year within our industry, with a fortunate few excelling off the back of a number of government funded projects and overseas work, but the vast majority suffering considerable pain and redundancies throughout 2008/2009 as aresult of seemingly endless cancellation of construction and re-furb projects.

At the end of 2009, Technology Resourcing conducted a poll of Intermediate to Director level Building Services professionals to assess market confidence and projections, which returned some encouraging results. Prior to the survey our own feedback was suggesting that optimism was slowly returning to the industry and the results went some way to ratifying this view.

Almost ⅔ of those polled felt that confidence was returning within the building services sector reporting that their organisations were expecting increased workloads by Q1/Q2 of 2010 at the latest, with 11% already experiencing increased workloads towards the end of 2009. Only a small percentage (11%) feared further decline through 2010.

Three months in to 2010, it seems that the findings of the poll were quite accurate. There appears to be considerably more confidence within the building services industry and a noticeable shift away from the anxiety endured by many practices through last year. Our Clients are now reporting increased level of enquiries and tendering opportunities across a range of sectors, most notably healthcare, education, data centres and commercial developments. A large number of projects previously put on hold through the credit crunch also now appear to be coming back out to tender.

We are also seeing those companies with more secure forward order books beginning to take advantage of the very well qualified engineers and project managers that are currently on the market, often from their direct competitors who were forced to make redundancies through last year. This offers them a huge competitive advantage, since they come with direct industry experience and training, so can hit the ground running, and are more realistic in their salary expectations than previously.

Despite increased confidence, those surveyed did express real concerns and frustrations resulting directly from the recession. Particularly highlighted were the unreasonably high number of companies tendering for projects, substantially decreased fees and extended latency between project award and work commencing, which of course affects cash flow and causes uncertainty, ultimately impacting a company’s ability to commit to longer term planning.

Clearly, confidence is more likely to stretch from short to medium-long term once the election is behind us and normal service is resumed. Then we can start addressing the resulting issue of skills shortages that will inevitably return to the industry. Hopefully this will be a discussion for later in the year!

I would like to thank everybody who took part in our survey and if anyone has any further questions regarding this or any other issues regarding recruitment in the building services industry please do not hesitate to contact Dan Cullingham, who heads up our Building Services division, on 01483 302211.