As part of our 'Leaders in Construction' interview series, Michael Parry shares his thoughts on the changes COVID has had on our industry and the huge impact on recruitment.

Tell us about your career in recruitment for the Construction and Building Supply sectors?

In 2007, I decided to take the plunge and set up a recruitment business focusing on Construction & Building Supplies. We had one overriding aim: to provide a genuine, informed & consultative service, building long-term working relationships based on trust.

A lot has changed over the years. But what remains a constant are the people.  It is a great industry in which to work.  I have made some great friends over the years and it has been great to see their career development during my time working in construction sector.

This year has definitely been the greatest learning curve for me personally and I think the sector is definitely going to be stronger for it as well. I’ve have a lot of aspirations for GCS moving forward and I am looking forward to seeing what 2021 brings.

Since COVID-19 how have you seen the hiring market change?

Pre- Covid, we were in a ‘candidate’s market’ in my opinion.  Since Covid, there is certainly an argument for there being a shift to an ‘employer’s market’ as despite the furlough scheme, unemployment went through the roof in those early months of lockdown.

Clearly, some sectors continue to remain devastated by the actions taken to combat Covid-19 but the construction and construction supplies sector have bounced back extremely well.  Once back open, trading reports have been incredibly positive.  So as quickly as jobs disappeared, they reappeared.

Although we don’t really know what the future looks like, things are back where they were.  There is still a large amount of people victim to Covid-19 redundancies – these are people we genuinely want to help if we can – so watch out for our initiative – The GCS Pledge.

How has the second lockdown differed from the first in terms of hiring trends?

From our experience the hiring trends in the sector due to lockdown 2.0 have not been affected.  We had a few fall outs and a few more requests for remote interviews but the message is clear from everyone – we are open for business!

What roles and skills are in-demand?

Within the Hire sector, engineering roles have always and remain highly in-demand.  If there are any CAP’d Powered Access Engineers reading this, please get in touch!!

Succession planning is critical to any employer so attracting the right senior level talent for our clients is always going to be important.

Michael Parry, Managing Director, GCS Associates

How have you changed your business to adapt with the changing nature of hiring and recruitment since the pandemic hit?

Thankfully we have always embraced technology and video technology, especially when it comes to interviews and presenting our candidates to clients. So, there hasn’t been much change on this level.  Investing in technology will also be high on our agenda and this is going to be more prevalent moving forward.

We aren’t one of the huge corporate agencies, so we are relatively agile which I feel is important in the current climate.  Within reason we have been able to whether the storm relatively unscathed.

Corny as it may sound, during lockdown when recruitment was, shall we say, not a priority, we saw it as an opportunity to give a little back, get to better know our clients and the industry we work in.  In was a good opportunity to develop those relationships and speak about non recruitment issues.

What I have personally taken from this is how important communication is; within our own team, and with our candidates and our clients.

We genuinely listened to our network, and now, in addition to recruitment we are now expanding our service offering with value-add services such as complete recruitment outsourcing, employer branding, executive search and training solutions.

How are you seeing your clients adapt their businesses to the new working world?

Firstly digitisation. The Builders Merchants sector and perhaps the wider Construction Supplies sector for a long time has rightly or wrongly been maligned as being slow to embrace change.  The events of this year have meant businesses have almost been forced to embrace change and see it as an opportunity to modernism and improve their business.  And from what I see this has been a great success.

Secondly operational change.  Covid-secure operational practices are now in place and new habits are being formed – both in terms of working practices for our clients and new buying habits for their customers.

There were also supply chain issues which I understand may persist, so forecasting will certainly be something the suppliers and distributors will be looking at.

What advice can you give to organisations who are struggling to recruit talent at the moment

Give us a call.


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