Moving to London? Here's what to expect.......

The lure of a summer in Europe and pursuit of the dream to live and work in London seems to be a long-planned reality for many antipodean construction professionals and commonwealth citizens at this time of year. Having successfully placed a number of Australians, Kiwis and South African citizens recently, we have observed that it is very difficult for those moving here to really grasp the impact of the EU referendum on their job prospects within the UK construction industry before arriving.

Many have been planning the move here for months and suddenly find themselves having to confront a changing landscape when it comes to hiring intentions of prospective employers. The media is sending mixed messages about the current economy and its future with different market sectors being affected in various ways as the repercussions ripple through the markets.

So, for those construction professionals moving to London anytime soon to work either in Cost or Project Management, we have compiled a few FAQs and brief answers below from what we can see and are hearing from our clients.

Has the construction industry slowed down?

This is the most obvious and somewhat all-encompassing query. The simple answer is yes, the not so simple answer is for how long. The uncertainty of what lies ahead means companies are being cautious when it comes to hiring plans whilst the dust settles. It is important to note that this is not a blanket rule for the industry as a whole. For example, we are working with some businesses who have a very positive view on Brexit, particularly real estate developers, with some taking a somewhat bullish approach in terms of identifying potential investment opportunities in the current tides. Nonetheless, on the whole, there is a distinct sense of inertia for many companies within the construction and property markets given it is still very early days in the grand 'Brexitious' scheme of things. 

Despite the number of cranes on the London skyline, a number of projects that have not yet secured planning permission or have yet to be financially committed are being reassessed by some developers which in turn affects the construction consultancies with many developments going on temporary hold. Things are taking longer to land but the good news is, it seems that land they still likely will. Quite frankly, the 'when' is anyone's guess. On a separate note, it seems to have taken a little longer for the contractors to feel any impact but some of these businesses are now also holding fire on anything less than urgent hires.

Does this mean there is more opportunity to secure freelance roles if companies are cautious about taking on permanent staff? 

Not necessarily. Consultants and Developers rarely hire freelancers anyway within the property sectors unless that freelancer is already known to them. Despite the potential that taking on a freelancer might represent in terms of flexibility for an employer to ride through peaks and troughs, this is not yet a trend that has picked up any more momentum than usual. Perhaps this might change moving forwards. What we have noticed, nonetheless, is that within larger companies, there seems to be a better resource planning approach by transferring staff internally between teams before looking to the external market.

For those moving here with construction and contractor backgrounds, the freelance option is always more prevalent as hiring strategy is often more project-focused than working client-side. There is a slight current upturn in freelance vacancies, therefore, but these seem to be shorter-term positions to get through the holiday period rather than any kind of upward trend in freelance opportunity because of Brexit.

How do employers feel about hiring me with a temporary working visa and what are the prospects of sponsorship thereafter?

For those who do not have ancestral rights to UK citizenship, there is concern over whether employers will be less interested in hiring people on temporary visas given Brexit. It might be reassuring to hear, therefore, that generally speaking, there does not seem to be much change in attitudes towards hiring people on this basis. Employers tend to either embrace the concept and cost of sponsorship or not. Thankfully, the question mark over the future working rights of EU citizens in the UK seems too far on the horizon for action one way or the other when it comes to hiring prejudice here and now.

Have salaries been affected?

Not really. What does seem to have abated is over-generous offers and above-market counter-offers, a welcome relief for the market as a whole. Money is not being thrown around disproportionately either to attract or retain talent in the way that is was last year. Employers are welcoming the breathing space that this needed adjustment to soaring salaries signifies.

Will I definitely get a job? Have I made the wrong decision to move here?

The answer to the first part of this question is yes, if you have strong experience relevant to the job for which you are applying or the companies your recruiter is exploring for you, then you will get a job. Your prospects are no less than they were before June 23rd 2016. This said, the process is likely to take longer. Even where companies are actively hiring, the general change of pace in the industry at large means hiring managers can take their time to ensure they find the right person. Ultimately, you may also find that you might not have as many offers as you hoped for to choose between, but then you only need one job! 

As for the second question in terms of whether you are making the wrong decision to move to London or not, well that depends on how long you can handle your winters!

For further advice on finding a cost, project or development manager role in the construction and property industry, whether you're from the UK or not, please don't hesitate to get in touch via our 'Contact' page or contact Melani King on melani@heronpartnership.com or 07764 824 532.