The Employment Market During Lockdown - Mike Westbury.

The Employment Market During Lockdown - Mike Westbury.

The Employment Market During Lockdown - Mike Westbury.

Firstly, I hope you and your families are all well and safe at home.


It has certainly been an unprecedented couple of weeks which has thrown us all a number of different challenges. As a business owner I have spent the majority of the last couple of weeks developing a contingency plan and also ensuring our staff are safe, looked after and supported during this time.


I thought it would be worthwhile communicating to our clients what we are seeing in the market from a hiring and employment perspective. As you all are most likely to be based at home I feel it is more important now than ever before that we share the information we garner from both our clients and candidates. I’m sure you will understand that I won’t be too specific so as to preserve confidentiality. I thought it would be worthwhile breaking it down into some generic comments and also industry specific across our specialisms – Construction, Property & Facilities, Architecture, Engineering and Professional Support.


General Comments:

We have, unsurprisingly, seen a decrease in new permanent jobs, however we are continuing to actively recruit some contract roles. The public sector continues to recruit and is actively trying to contribute to the economy which is good to see. The current state of uncertainty has meant that most private sector firms have put a hold on any recruitment. However some pro-active, forward thinking and well setup businesses are hiring and they are hiring in a different way, which I have outlined below:


  • They are interviewing everyone online. If you haven’t investigated Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or Zoom then you need to be.
  • They still stick to their standard hiring procedure in terms of interview formats etc – i.e. peer reviews can still be done online.
  • They are also investigating online on boarding platforms or at the very least sending laptops to new starters and engaging with them via video conference tools. I am not familiar with these platforms but I know that large overseas companies use the likes of,, and



Key message we are hearing from main contractor clients is the need to get back on site, most believe that once back on site there will be a return to some form of normality. There may be some additional costs around contract negotiations with regards to the time lost though. Once the sites are back up and running then all the construction advisory consultancies (PM, QS etc) will feel more confident. Having said that a number of our consulting clients are working on pre-construction feasibility projects and this is continuing.


Property & Facilities Management

The property sector is currently dealing with the ongoing negotiations between landlords and tenants around tenancy agreements. Most of our property clients have never been busier.



We always use architects as the barometer of the wider industry in terms of future growth and optimism. In a positive but surprising way our architectural clients are currently busy as projects continue to go ahead. They are however generally not hiring and understandably are very cautious about the future.



Generally speaking our engineering clients are in the same boat as the construction advisory consultancies and are in a bit of a holding pattern.


Professional Support

Our support roles have dropped away on a permanent basis, companies are making do with what they have and not investing in new support staff at this time – again totally understandable. However we expect to see an increase in temp requests when we return to some form of normality, this is a great way to ease back into the hiring market with less risk.


So we are hopeful, but realistic when it comes to forecasting the next 6-12 months. Having said that we are also not looking too far ahead, the end of the first 4 weeks as mandated by the government will dictate much of what the future may look like.


I’d welcome any comments around the challenges your business faces in this uncertain future be it positive or negative – feel free to email me on or give me a call on 021888907 or even better – let’s setup a zoom chat!


Stay safe and stay in touch.


We are all in this together.


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