Find a job


  • »
  • »
  • Construction Skills Shortage - Bring Back the Expats!

Construction Skills Shortage - Bring Back the Expats!
Posted on Jun 29, 2015

Construction Skills Shortage - Bring Back the Expats!

Those of us who work in the real estate and construction sector are very much aware that while the sector is thriving in the UK as the economy recovers there is a real danger that continued growth and productivity will be hampered by the very real skills shortage in the industry. 

Many thousands were lost to the industry in the aftermath of the last downturn - most of these have reskilled and retrained and will be forging careers in other sectors. Most of that talent pool is lost to the industry for good - even where skills are still relevant or transferrable, there is a natural reluctance to return to a sector where you may have suffered at best a salary freeze and career stagnation and at worst the loss of a job or business. 

Training and apprenticeship programmes were cut - one can argue short-sightedly - but bearing in mind the economic realities of the time, understandably. 

So now, with a growing economy, increasing demand for housebuilding and a number of major infrastructure projects either in progress or in the pipeline (CrossRail, HS2, Thames Tideway, Hinckley Point, etc), the real estate and construction industry is suffering from a serious shortage of skills and personnel to be able to meet demand. 

EU migrant workers have helped fill the shortfall to some extent, but the talent pool with the necessary skills is limited there, too - and the UK is competing with other economies both within the EU and globally. 

Many larger companies have established new training programmes or expanded existing schemes, but this won't help alleviate the immediate problem. 

However, there is one talent pool that has been largely overlooked - the British expat. 

Figures from the UN suggest there are over 5 million British nationals living abroad. This will include those who have permanently emigrated, but many will be temporary workers with no plans to settle in their host country. And many of them will be working in real estate and construction. 

For example, estimates put the number of expat workers in the Middle East at around 150,000 with about a third in the UAE and substantial numbers in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. 

Many of these expats will have taken overseas contracts at a time when the UK construction industry was in recession. They will have current skills and may be working on major builds and infrastructure projects. Some will now be in a position where they will be considering their next career move and it is clear that UK has a lot to offer ambitious professionals like Project Managers, Project Engineers, Site Managers, Quantity Surveyors and Building Surveyors.

There is a frenzy of construction in LondonIn London there is a frenzy of residential and commercial property building - Nine Elms, Lots Road, Silvertown, Kings Cross, Greenwich Peninsula and many more - and there is plenty of activity around the rest of the country as well. 

The road and rail upgrades included in the Northern Powerhouse proposals will help to provide the infrastructure to stimulate economic activity across the whole of the north of England. Devolution of power to cities like Manchester on the London model will help to simplify planning and facilitate release of land for commercial and residential developments. 

For real estate professionals this is a time of great career opportunity - headline projects, full pipelines and a growing economy. 

For any Brits working in real estate and construction overseas, this would be a great time to resume your career in the UK - with the opportunity to live and work in some of the great cities of the world - London, Birmingham, Manchester…

…and remember the petrodollars that fund many of the major construction projects in the Middle East might not be flowing quite so freely if the oil price remains at current levels for much longer!

If you are a professional working overseas in Real Estate, Construction or Infrastructure and thinking about planning your next career move, call for a confidential chat or email to see how Blayze Group can help.

You can see a range of current opportunities on the Blayze Group web site. Bear in mind that many senior openings are not advertised - we work with most of the major construction companies and consultancies and we can always find opportunities for talented individuals. 

At Blayze Group we have specialist teams working across all the major disciplines - 

  • Design & Technical
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Architecture & Interiors
  • Engineering
  • Technical Surveying & Project Management
  • Construction
  • General Practice
  • Business Support
  • Land & Planning

About Blayze Group
Blayze Group is the preeminent search and selection firm in the UK operating in the real estate, construction and infrastructure sectors. We provide exceptional talent for our clients, helping them to grow and strengthen their business by selecting and retaining the people who can genuinely make a difference.  

If you want to know how our professional service will save you time and money, as well as providing top calibre candidates who will add value to your business, call Harvey Gretton on 020 7337 7500.

If you are a real estate professional with ambitions to progress your career, contact our specialist consultants for a confidential chat.

Alex Nisangah - Architecture & Design -
Simon Waller - General Practice -
Ross Sowerbutts - Production -
Leo Gee - Consultancy -
Chris Wright - Sales & Marketing -
Laura Padgett - Blayze Group North -

BBC - Brits Abroad
Institute for Public Policy Research
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Office for National Statistics
UK Gov National Infrastructure Plan
Ireland - Dept of Foreign Affairs & Trade
CIPD - Counting the cost of jobs in the recession
The Northern PowerHouse



Share this

< Back to Blog


…there are many different sectors within the real estate industry so it’s only natural to have different teams which provide specialist services. Many of the Blayze Group specialists have more than eight years of commercial experience in the sector, which is unique in itself.
Leo Gee, Specialist Surveying Consultant