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what’s driving the shift from freelance to perm in construction?.

We all know how popular flexible working has become amongst UK construction professionals. What may surprise you, however, is just how much things are shifting back to permanent work. 

More and more firms are bringing white collar workers in-house. Candidates are responding – we’ve recently seen a 50/50 split in contracted vs. permanent roles, bucking the trend of the past few years. 

There are a couple of reasons for this U-turn. And we want to explain which elements could be in the driver’s seat. 

The economic climate

Whatever side of the debate you’re on, Brexit is a hot-button issue. British business still has no clear idea of what’s currently going on, how our future trading relationships will be defined, or whether our exit from the EU will even happen at all. 

Business investment fell by 1.2% in Q3 of 2018 as companies held their breath. Private equity is falling. Some overseas firms are stalling or thinking twice about projects over factors like delays, reorganisation or work visa processing. The UK isn’t performing as well as it once did, which might lead you to think job creation would be on the decline.

However, construction is performing better than many other UK sectors. As a result, more permanent roles are being created. What’s more, there’s a real appetite for full-time, stable managerial roles in this sector: they give people some guarantee that they will continue to earn in one place. 

Security of labour

The current economic climate coincides with another, underlying issue faced by construction firms: the skills shortage. As a generation of white collar workers retire, those with senior skills are becoming more and more sought after – meaning contractors, in particular, come at a price.

Suddenly the prospect of putting together an attractive benefits package doesn’t seem such a burden for companies wanting to attract and retain top talent. This, in turn, is making permanent work all the more attractive for candidates in this space. When the offer is stronger, people are more likely to choose security over freedom. 

IR35 complications 

On top of that, the industry’s concerns have come true. As of April 2020, the government is rolling out IR35 developments to the private sector. So, as well as the administrative pressure, freelancers will have to hand the question of whether they are or aren’t ‘independent’ over to those they work for. 

Whilst good construction recruitment firms can deal with the additional checks, it’s putting some companies off using contractors. Especially since many workers, fearing a knock-on effect on their earnings, are increasing their rates when bidding for freelance placements.  

Build Space remains at the head of developments like these, and how they affect senior construction hires. We serve a small, select group of clients at a time, focusing on the abilities of our candidates rather than playing the numbers game with CVs. It means we get the right people into the right positions, regardless of the basis (permanent, fixed term or freelance). 

To enquire further, speak to our team. We’d be happy to chat about the ongoing state of British construction overall, and what it could mean for your business or career. 
Twitter: Security over freedom – that’s what a significant number of construction firms and professionals are choosing today. Why are perm roles on the rise? We have the overview you need. 

LinkedIn: Until now, contractors have been rife in the construction industry… But what’s new? And why are permanent offers upping their game? In our latest article, we break down the contractor v. perm sea-change, and what it means for British construction. 

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