Although the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak seems to be behind us, the crisis is far from over. With case numbers increasing, government guidelines are changing frequently, and new restrictions are being rolled out across the regions with higher rates of infection. Many businesses are struggling to cope with this ongoing disruption, and the construction industry has been hit hard.
Some sites were closed completely for a period of several months, while others continued to operate with greatly reduced staff numbers. Social distancing rules meant that sites were unable to work at full capacity, leading to extensive job losses. As of July 2020, an estimated 7,000 construction workers were unemployed, while many more were furloughed. While furloughing prevented further redundancies, it also prevented companies from hiring new staff as this would violate the terms of the scheme. With fewer employees on-site, jobs took much longer, leading to rising overhead costs and reduced profits.
To make matters worse, the pandemic also caused a major labour shortage in the construction industry. Many building sites rely on foreign workers to make up their numbers, but new travel restrictions made this impossible during the summer. While this opened up positions for UK workers, it also caused a new set of problems. With so much general unemployment in the country, building companies were inundated with applications from desperate job hunters. HR teams have been forced to sort through hundreds of additional applications, many of them from unqualified candidates. Video interviews and remote onboarding have also become the norm, giving HR staff, even more, to worry about.
Even as building sites reopen, many of these problems will continue. Social distancing measures seem unlikely to end any time soon, and travel restrictions are changing on an almost daily basis. It is also worth remembering that Brexit is still on the horizon. Whether or not we secure a final deal, the UK will be leaving the EU on the 31st of December. This will further complicate the hiring of migrant workers, and so planning ahead is essential.
Throughout the pandemic, we have remained open and ready to help with all your staffing needs. We will match the best staff to your vacant roles, saving you the trouble of trawling through piles of unsuitable applications. We are also committed to worker safety, and any staff we provide will be fully briefed on social distancing and other safety measures. Don’t panic about staffing. Get in touch today and let us put your mind at ease.