British housebuilders Persimmon Homes is launching a recruitment drive across its 24 businesses to find tradesman as it prepares to build more homes across the country.

They are looking for subcontractors, labour-only subcontractors and direct employees to help the business meet demand from buyers. Since April the company has already taken on 286 trade and apprentice direct employees and is now targeting people who may have left the industry or are looking for a new career.

The campaign has also seen Persimmon undertake research looking the perceptions of tradespeople among the UK public. HR director Richard Latham says that although enlightening, the responses do not paint a totally true picture of working in a trade in 2013:

“Our research shows that 78% of people in the UK view the work of tradesmen as skilled, which is extremely positive, but worryingly, 70% don’t feel the job is rewarding and 82% don’t feel it has a competitive salary. In our experience, this is extremely wide of the mark.”

He believes that even more worrying is the fact that 48% of people feel that the negative stereotypes surrounding tradesmen stop young people from pursuing a career in the industry.

"Our research found that the majority of people in London (67%), the South East (65%) and West Midlands (62%) think that there are limited jobs available to them, whilst 54% of the North East and 40% of Scots admit that it is extremely hard to find jobs in their local area.

"Our apprentice campaign is extremely popular and we will soon be kicking off our search for over 100 more young people to join us in 2014. We see young people as the future of our business and we invest both time and money in one of the best training programmes in the industry. Many of our senior personnel, including our current chief executive Jeff Fairburn, started in the industry as an apprentice."

Steve Roche, Persimmon’s group communications director, added: "Demand for new homes is definitely on the up, partly thanks to the government-led purchase schemes, such as Help to Buy, and also due to the general improvement in the economy."

Via HVP Magazine

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Specialist recruiter Randstad CPE has published new research that shows construction professionals are among the most fulfilled workers in the UK.

In a poll of 2000 workers from a wide variety of industries, it was found that the IT sector and similar ones such as human resources, legal and marketing had the highest level of professional fulfillment at 73%, but construction was following closely at 66%. In addition to this 13% of UK workers said said were unfulfilled in the workplace, as opposed to just 12% in construction alone.

This is rather impressive for an industry that has been struggling in recent years, and is finally seeing a turnout with a boom predicted over the next four years.

Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad CPE, said: "Improving levels of fulfilment further represents a massive opportunity for the sector. With higher professional fulfilment comes lower absenteeism and lower staff turnover."

The research also found that professional fulfillment is highest among those at either the start or end of their careers. 67% of 18 to 24 year olds feel fulfilled, along with 66% of those aged 55 and above.This then diminishes during the middle of people’s careers – the lowest proportion of those who feel fulfilled at work was among those aged 35 to 44 (57%).

"There are huge rewards in terms of fulfilment from keeping on older construction professionals, quite apart from the advantages of continuity and expertise," continued Goodhead. "But we also need to make sure we get plenty of young blood into the profession. At the moment, that's not happening. There's been a 20% growth in the construction workforce since the early 1990s, but that expansion has been uneven across different age groups.

"A major concern is the lack of young entrants into an ageing workforce, with numbers of workers aged 60 and over in the industry having doubled in recent years, while the number of those aged 24 and under has fallen by 27%. While the increasing age profile is most pronounced in the manual workforce, professional trades such as architecture, mechanical and civil engineering could also lose 20% of their manpower to retirement in the next 10 years, so the need for new, younger blood is pressing. If the sector continues to rely disproportionately on the middle-aged, there will be consequences. Our research shows a mid-career crisis is a very real phenomenon."

The research also reveals that women are more likely to be professionally fulfilled than men (17% versus 16%).

Goodhead added: "I don’t think it’s unfair to say construction is not renowned for its gender diversity – approximately 88% of construction project managers and related professionals are men. Our research suggests the gender imbalance may be holding the sector back and dragging professional fulfilment down – despite the fact the sector’s still more satisfied than average.

"To attract more women, the industry needs to offer flexible employment and provide working conditions that suit women. Out goes a culture of long hours, presenteeism and machismo – in comes more part-time employment and a greater attention to work-life balance."

The research was carried out as part of a wider study showing the fulfilment levels of Britain’s workers compared to the rest of Europe and the English-speaking world. Approximately 45,000 employees from the UK were interviewed as well as Britain’s English-speaking and European peers over the course of three years for its Fulfilment@Work report. The findings showed that British workers have had the lowest scores in nine out of the past 13 quarters when compared to European peers, including France and Germany, and nine out of the last 11 quarters when compared to English-speaking countries including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Randstad has launched a campaign named How I Became, inspired by the real stories of real people who are fulfilled at work. A web hub contains films from people who work in a range of business sectors, providing key pieces of advice designed to help future candidates on their path to professional fulfilment.

Via HVP Magazine

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The results are in from the Health & Safety Executive's month-long tour of construction sites and its not looking good.

Over September the HSE visited a total of 2607 construction sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place, and found that safety standards were not being met on 1105 sites - that's nearly half of the total amount!

This news doesn't come as a big surprise when you consider the earlier photos the HSE released of some of the sites they visited (which can be seen here and here), but on 644 sites practices were so poor that enforcement action was needed to protect workers. 539 prohibition notices were served ordering "dangerous activities to stop immediately", while a further 414 improvement notices were issued to order a rise in standards. The most common problems identified included failing to protect workers during activities at height, exposure to harmful dust and inadequate welfare facilities.

Heather Bryant, HSE's Chief Inspector of Construction said: "It is disappointing to find a significant number of sites falling below acceptable health and safety standards, where our inspectors encountered poor practice this often went hand in hand with a lack of understanding.

"Through initiatives like this we are able to tackle underlying issues before they become established and we will continue to work with the industry in an effort to drive up standards.

"However those who recklessly endanger the health and lives of their workforce can expect to face tough consequences."

Via Construction Enquirer

Leading economists have forecasted that the construction industry will enter a period of rapid and sustained growth over the next four years, enjoying an impressive 19% increase by 2017.

This estimation comes from the Construction Products Association, who expect the £20 billion expansion to be led by an increase in housing, energy and transport infrastructure. The new forecast comes following a notable rise in the housing industry over the summer, which has led economists to abandon their previous expectations.

Noble Francis, Economics Director of the CPA, said: "Construction is set to enjoy growth over the next four years as it recovers from its worst recession in over 35 years. This is mainly due to private housing, which is experiencing a rapid rise, and infrastructure, which is seeing a more gradual return to positive territory."

"The private housing sector is being driven by recovery in the wider economy and the impacts of policies including Help to Buy, which have driven both house prices and house building. This is expected to lead to private house starts increasing 19.0% in 2013 and 15.0% in 2014, albeit from historic low levels of house building.

"Although rapid growth is predicted over the next 18 months, uncertainty remains around what will happen when the policies end, given that the housing market is unlikely to be self-sustaining by then."

He explained that the infrastructure sector was still recovering from a difficult 2012, where output fell 12.7% despite the government announcing boosts to it.

"Government now appears, however, to be refocusing capital investment towards repairs and renewals. In addition, work on Europe’s largest construction project, Crossrail, is expected to peak over the next 18 months. As a result, growth of 7.4% is forecast in 2014.

"In the longer-term, the prospects for infrastructure will be reliant upon investment in the replacement of energy capacity across nuclear, offshore wind, gas and shale, all of which remain uncertain. Driven by this investment, we predict the sector will enjoy further growth of 27.9% between 2015 and 2017."

But despite this forecasted increase, other key sectors will apparently continue to struggle. Work in the largest sector of commercial (offices and retail) remains one-third lower than its high in 2007, while public sector construction, which accounts for one-third of total industry output, continues to constrain overall growth.

"After suffering from an extremely tough market for over five years, and acting as a drag on UK economic activity, construction is set to grow every year between 2014 and 2017. This should provide a considerable boost to the wider economy," said Francis.

Via Construction Enquirer

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Cardiff Council has called for contractors interested in potentially building an indoor arena and convention centre in the city centre.

Though these plans are still in the early stages, the council is looking for firms interested in these two major building projects, both expected to cost around £60 million to build. Along with the Welsh Government they are exploring a number of different funding options, including potentially borrowing (with a low interest long-term repayment plan) from the Treasury's Public Works Loan Board. Another avenue that has been suggested is the use of tax increment financing.

Talks with other cities and developers have seen it draw up plans for a 15,000-seat capacity indoor arena in a horse-shoe layout, rather than conventional fan-shaped floor plate. It will not only be used to stage major sporting events and concerts, but also annual party political conferences.

Alongside this the council also aims to deliver a 1,500-seat international conference centre with around 500,000 sq ft of exhibition space. The plans are an essential part of the Labour council’s vision for boosting the capital’s economy over the next 20 to 30 years.

Via Construction Enquirer

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