Where are all the Quantity Surveyors?

  • 5 Apr 2016

Guest Blog: Alan Greenin, Managing Consultant, TDM Recruitment.

With 64% of firms reporting problems in finding a QS and salaries increasing at record levels, what can be done to meet the recruitment and retention challenges?

1-Fullscreen capture 21032016 125458Last year’s RICS survey into the post-recession skills shortage in the construction sector found that Quantity Surveyors, along with bricklayers, were the staff in shortest supply across the industry, with 64% of firms reporting problems in finding a QS. Even more worrying, a 2015 survey by property agent Knight Frank showed 59% of developers and housebuilders believed that the shortage was having a negative impact on projects. However, the question is why QS’s in particular, and what can be done?

It comes down to how the industry has changed post-recession. We hear firsthand from Quantity Surveyors who are carrying a lot of the strains and stresses of keeping a project within budget. When the market was on its knees a lot of jobs were being priced up at a certain rate, but as the market has recovered and we have seen a shortage of bricklayers and subcontractors as well as a rise in materials costs, those prices have been creeping up. With this occurring during the construction phase in many cases, surveyors are getting a lot of flak as they have tendered a project at one price which can then change substantially.

As well as having the result of projects not coming in on budget, the challenges have led to surveyors seeking other roles or going freelance, as reputable QS’s are very loyal to the projects they are working on and don’t want to leave jobs half done. Their skills in managing budgets on projects make them ideally suited for potentially more lucrative roles in project management, for example Project Directors and Development Directors.

With the price being variable in standard JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal) contracts, subcontractors’ prices are always going to increase while their costs of materials keep increasing. Fixed price contracts intended to avoid this have seen subcontractors go out of business because they aren’t able to make the necessary margins when costs increase. The surveyor then has to stand between the contractor and subcontractors and try and get their prices down, and if they don’t the QS is unable to source the materials needed to complete a project.

The industry is now doing everything it can to attract QS, with a 2014 Careers in Construction report finding that the number of job roles had jumped by an amazing 72% in the previous year. Salaries are increasing at record levels, but freelance rates can be exponentially higher.

Prices within projects cannot keep increasing, with skills shortages continuing to be a dangerous symptom which the industry will struggle to cope with. Although there are a plethora of attractive QS roles currently in the market, construction needs to see a rebalancing of the costs which are causing this gap between demand and supply before the candidates appear to fill them.

Leave a Reply

Latest news

DensDeck
Mitsubshi Electric

Family Day Workshop by Mitsubishi Electric

If you are an architecture or environmental enthusiast, bring your children along to a family day of fun and educational activities at the Building Centre on Saturday 22nd June – Mitsubishi Electric will deliver its award-winning programme, The Learning Curve (with a few twists), designed to teach children about energy use and energy efficiency.

Posted in Articles, Building Industry Events, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Building Services, Facility Management & Building Services, Heating Systems, Controls and Management, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - HVAC, Pipes & Fittings, Plumbing, Retrofit & Renovation, Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Keller

Keller Kitchens excels in Kiwa assessment

Keller Kitchens has been reassessed by Kiwa, a European institute that is involved in the certification of processes, products, employees and organisations. Once again, the company passed with flying colours!

Posted in Articles, Building Associations & Institutes, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Building Regulations & Accreditations, Building Services, Interior Design & Construction, Interiors, Kitchens, Research & Materials Testing, Restoration & Refurbishment, Retrofit & Renovation, Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

National Ventilation

National Ventilation’s Operations Director Completes D-Day 44 Challenge

Alan Parkinson, Operations Director at National Ventilation, has completed the D-Day 44 Challenge in aid of Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

Posted in Air Conditioning, Articles, Building Industry Events, Building Industry News, Building Products & Structures, Building Services, Charity work, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - HVAC