Vox pop: Is construction still recruiting in the wake of the Brexit result?

13 October 2016

Rob Smith, chairman, Management Recruitment Group

August has been quiet as we’d usually expect but it has been slightly quieter then normal. This could be attributed to Brexit.

It varies from company to company really, some are taking it slow while others like United Living have a very strategic plan to double in size by 2020.

One interesting area we have noticed is some companies, rather than taking on more people, have been redeploying them elsewhere.

In terms of specific sectors, commercial property has developed. In terms of roles, site/project managers are still in demand. However, we have seen a knock on in the approach from the candidate, in that they are now more cautious about moving. It now has to be a really good move, instead of just like for like.

Ed Hoad, recruitment consultant, Catalyst Executive Search

I think there remains a lot of anxiety from both the client and candidate side. For companies, it’s a bit of a Catch 22 situation at the moment: there’s still a lot of projects current and planned which need resources so they need to recruit, but I think they're still anxious in terms of recruiting, as there could be a downturn in six to nine months, who knows?

I think it makes it quite a strange position. The referendum, tied in with the summer break, has made candidates quite unreceptive over the last few months. They’re concerned about leaving meaningful employment and then joining a new place with the old adage last in, first out.

But, having said all that, I’m absolutely flat out. I'm still busy across both the client and consultancy side. There’s still ambition and appetite to recruit, but I think it’s more tailored than it was before. 

Shelley Lawton, senior recruitment specialist, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

While we are seeing some minor shifts in the market towards the parts of our business that are busiest, there is no sign otherwise of the industry as a whole slowing down. WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is still steadily recruiting across the UK in 2016 and currently setting our growth plans for 2017.

Post-Brexit we believe we have a responsibility to “keep calm and carry on”. As part of a global consultancy that provides a variety of engineering, environmental, management and transport services facing both the private and public sectors, we have the flexibility to adjust with market demands.

Salaries show no sign of falling and the demand for qualified and experienced engineers and consultants is as high as it has ever been.

Duncan McIndoe, global HR director at Turner & Townsend

To start with, we’re still continuing to deliver a number of projects so we’re still continuing to recruit.

From an industry-wide view, I think Brexit has had little impact. The reality is projects are still going ahead and in the medium-term it’s really impossible to predict the outcome.

With regards salaries in the sector, there’s been a period of upwards pressure on wages. There’s a strong competition for talent across construction and the built environment industries.


Brexit has been devastating for the London high end residential construction industry. Brexit combined with the almost suicidal 12% stamp duty hike, the limits on basements in K&C, is the final nail. We are currently busy in central London, but new inquiries stopped completely post Brexit vote. Normally we would see one or two per week.

Talking to our clients, they see danger in the London market whereas 12 months ago they saw security. This is going to affect hundreds of businesses.

Mick Barnett, 19 October 2016

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