Robert Walters issues rallying call to AEC industry

By on 15 April, 2020

Photo courtesy of the ABC.

Recruiter urges collaboration and knowledge sharing to build a sustainable future labour force.

Recruitment firm Robert Walters has released a set of recommendations to managers in the infrastructure and construction sectors on responding to Covid-19’s impact.

Associate director of engineering and infrastructure said that the industry has historically been adversarial, but the Covid-19 presented an opportunity to rethink hitherto wicked problems.

“While most of us can’t materially change the outcome of the pandemic we face right now, each of us can choose how we respond to it. Across the engineering and infrastructure industries everyone is grappling with uncertainty and operating in similar trying circumstances,” she said.

Ms. Lowney suggested a point for cross-sector discussion could be contracting and risk allocation models.

“In the past we haven’t been able to get to grips with a sustainable solution, so what better time to tackle it than now?” she said.

Ms. Lowney said that while hiring has been impacted across sectors, governments have fast-tracked many construction and engineering projects.

“Governments across the country are creating shovel ready projects in record time to better support the employment opportunities for an increasingly displaced workforce. Both public and private sectors have an opportunity to come together to think about innovative ways in which they can connect workers with employers in an efficient and timely manner. In turn, this will go some way to relieving the pressure on those who have recently lost their jobs due to the current pandemic,” she said.

The firm released seven tips for hiring managers in AEC industries to smooth out the process in the wake of Covid-19.

  • Prepare your selection process, commit to the timings and milestones, and
    communicate that clearly to candidates.
  • Revisit contracting models: Permanent hires can feel like a big commitment in the current climate but there are other ways to hire without carrying the same risk. For example, you might hire someone on a six-month contract and treat that as a probation period while waiting to see how the markets looks in a few weeks’ time.
  • Consider barriers: Think about what reassurances you can offer candidates. Be ready to answer questions such as: Is your hiring policy ‘last in, first out’?
  • Be realistic: People with 10-15 years’ tenure at their current employer are unlikely to leave their jobs right now. So be smart about who you’re targeting.
  • Consider upskilling: It might sound odd for a recruiter to say this but perhaps you don’t need to hire an external candidate. If your organisation is quiet at the moment, consider your existing workforce and who might be redeployed and/or upskilled to fill an area of need.
  • Be flexible: Employers and professionals everywhere are learning new ways of working at the moment. Before hiring, challenge your own assumptions about things like working hours and geography. For example, does your new recruit really need to live within daily commuting distance from your workplace now?
  • Plan onboarding: In this time of social distancing, think carefully about how you will onboard your new colleague. Consider each stage of your usual process and how you can adjust this in the current circumstances, whilst also ensuring that your new employee still feels part of the team.

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