British contractors to poach Dubai site staff

Shortage of site professionals in UK forces contractors to launch Gulf recruitment drive

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By  Angela Giuffrida Published  March 4, 2006

British construction companies are targeting the building sites of the Gulf to fill empty positions at home. Contractors including May Gurney and the UK office of Skanska are among the companies scouring construction sites in Dubai in search of staff. May Gurney is hiring through recruitment consultants, PRS Selection, in a bid to fill dozens of jobs on its rail, road, infrastructure and utilities projects across the UK. And Skanska is on the look out for site engineers, site agents and quantity surveyors to work on its highway projects. “We will eventually see more contractors doing the same,” said Stuart Knowles, a director for PRS Selection in the UK. “It’s down to a shortage of qualified staff in the UK — people just aren’t going into civil engineering or quantity surveying anymore. Companies also have a better budget to be able to recruit from overseas.” Knowles added that most recruits in the Middle East are found among UK expatriates wanting to return home, or the Asian community. “Most of them want to come and work for a British company. Although we do find good quality people in the Middle East, there is usually a teething process when they first start jobs in the UK.” Two-thirds of contractors in the UK see the chronic shortage of skilled labour as a barrier to growth, according to a survey conducted by PKF accountants and business advisers. The situation is worse in Scotland, where 74% of contractors are concerned that profits will be affected by the labour shortage, compared to 55% in London and the South East. Brian Lovie, director of PKF, said: “The shortage in skilled labour is not a new issue for the construction industry, but it is one which appears to be having a major impact on its growth.”

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