Construction major projects skills Ellis Fox Blog

What can make or break major projects?

Major projects such as HS2 and Crossrail are often in the news, citing problems with funding, productivity, community objections or government approvals. But there is one element that often gets overlooked, because it’s not in the public eye.  It’s the people driving the success of the project, the many role players that have specialised expertise critical to the success of a project.

Matching expertise to company requirements is what recruiters do. But hiring senior expertise on major projects is an entirely different ball game. Specialists aren’t a dime a dozen, and they’re rarely out of work. This means that if companies operating major projects want to attract the best talent available, they need to make sure what they’re offering is worthwhile.

What appeals to top talent in construction?

It’s not just about money. Specialists are selective about the type of projects they want to work on, the people or companies they’re willing to work with, or the type of contracts they’ll consider. Without being arrogant, they know their value and any offers being presented should reflect that. If a company is being overly conservative in the type of contract they’re willing to offer, it’s unlikely to be entertained, no matter how high profile the project.

Specialists know that it’s their reputation on the line too. If a contract restricts their ability to select the teams, equipment or technologies, for example, that’ll support success, they have no reason to risk their reputation.

Specialists want to continue to build their expertise because they know it’ll create future opportunities. At the same time this creates risk for companies. At a very senior level, many skills are transferable between industry sectors. It’s not uncommon for senior project directors to get poached to other projects that present more attractive opportunities. Technology is proving to be a big draw card and these are currently rare skillsets. An opportunity to work with innovative building methods or cutting edge technology will be difficult to compete with.

This once again highlights the importance of creating the right working environment that’ll retain the top talent in a company. Companies that are proactive and progressive in their outlook will rank higher as an employer of choice. If the same companies are the ones winning major frameworks, they need to make sure they’re supporting their senior specialists who can drive the successful delivery of the project.