What could the government’s proposed investment zones mean for the construction sector?

team of construction workers

The past few weeks have involved a lot of uncertainty. The markets showed huge reactions to the government’s mini-budget, we lost one Chancellor of the Exchequer and gained a new one, and now we’re waiting for a new prime minister! It’s been a whirlwind with inflation, currency markets, and mortgage rates grabbing headlines. But other policy announcements have attracted much less attention.

One announcement that has remained largely under the radar has been the creation of designated ‘investment zones’. These have the potential to be a game-changer for the construction industry, but can they live up to the promise? 

What could the proposed investment zones mean for construction recruitment?

The idea behind these new investment zones is deceptively simple. They will be specific geographical areas with significantly less red tape and restrictions.

The reduced regulations are designed to encourage business development and growth. Companies operating within these zones are likely to have lower tax rates and be subject to simpler rules.

Planning regulations are one of the most significant knots of red tape these investment zones are expected to untangle. Housing and industrial buildings will probably be significantly easier to gain authorisation for. Development that would normally struggle to pass planning may now be approved.

There have also been suggestions that it won’t just be companies that benefit. Individuals living and working in these areas might also pay lower income taxes.

How could these investment zones impact the construction industry?

If these plans are successful, we can expect a substantial increase in construction across England. Each investment zone will probably experience a mini-construction boom in the short- and medium-term.

Lower corporation tax encourages companies to invest, meaning office and manufacturing spaces are likely to be priorities for organisations operating within the zones.

With fewer planning restrictions, we can also expect residential construction to increase significantly. Companies operating in investment zones will need staff, and those workers will want to live nearby. Property in these up-and-coming areas will probably command premium prices. 

With so much investment going around, construction firms will be some of the biggest winners in these zones. Companies can expect lots of new contracts and exciting new projects.

One of the biggest challenges for construction firms will be finding enough qualified workers to complete those projects. Recruitment will be key for years after the creation of investment zones.

The details are still fuzzy

Right now, the language around investment zones is full of ambiguity. We can make suggestions and talk about our expectations, but we’re still light on facts.

We don’t know where these investment zones are going to be, we don’t know when they’ll be implemented, and we don’t know the exact form they will take. And, at this rate, it’s fair to say that they might never materialise — at least not exactly how they’ve been proposed.

We do know that the government has opened an application process for local authorities to express their interest in the scheme. However, it will still be some time before we know which authorities have applied, let alone which are successful.

Luckily, we don’t need the full details of the scheme to know what construction companies will do to make the most of the opportunity investment zones will offer.

Now is the time for firms to plan their expansion, especially when it comes to recruitment. Companies need to analyse their future needs and create a strategic plan to meet them in plenty of time. 

6 top tips to make the most of your construction recruitment

Recruitment doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some of the top strategies to find great construction workers, whatever the economic situation.

1. Participate in work experience programmes

We still have a little time before investment zones are up and running. This allows you to find eager young people keen to learn the skills you’ll need.

Look for opportunities to team up with schools and colleges in your area. Encourage youngsters to see themselves in construction roles and ensure you have the capacity to train them to be your ideal new hires.

2. Create an apprenticeship scheme

You can go one stage further and attract young people by creating an apprenticeship scheme.

Apprenticeship schemes benefit your company and the young people who participate. You’re able to train the next generation of workers with the skills you desperately need. They receive high-quality training, paid employment, and the chance to learn from more experienced colleagues.

Apprenticeship schemes can also be a cost-effective way of filling your skills gap. Formal apprenticeships are usually eligible for government support and grants. High-quality, well-trained staff at cut-price costs are an attractive prospect, especially when you need to expand rapidly.

3. Recruit outside the box

You’re not going to be the only construction company looking to increase recruitment in response to investment zones. If other firms are competing for experienced construction workers, try looking in more unexpected places.

Focusing on abilities rather than experience can help you find great new employees. Military veterans can be fantastic resources and may already have relevant work experience. 

You might also want to consider offender rehabilitation programs or even try to convince recent retirees to return to the industry. 

4. Take advantage of visa schemes

Roles requiring substantial training or academic qualifications might be eligible for graduate visa schemes. These schemes allow you to recruit workers from across the world to fill a skills shortage.

Visa schemes alone won’t fill your job vacancies. You still need to reach out to foreign students to highlight the work opportunities available in the UK.

Consider making connections with overseas universities and ensure that your employer branding extends beyond the UK. For more details, check out our recent post about how to get the best results from graduate visa schemes.

5. Reskill existing workers

Avoid the stress and difficulty of finding highly-skilled workers by training your existing staff in the skills you need to grow your business.

Training doesn’t have to be reserved for younger workers. Loyal, hardworking staff can be hard to find. Reward your great employees by helping them to develop their skills and improve their earning potential.

This gives you highly-skilled staff you already know you can trust and shows a high degree of commitment to your teams. Staff who feel valued are more productive.

6. Consider where you advertise

The days of advertising vacancies in the back of your local newspaper and receiving more applications than you can handle are long gone. Modern recruitment means taking your company to your candidates, not just relying on them finding you.

Social media has become an essential component of an effective recruitment strategy, especially if you want to attract younger workers. You must ensure that your social media presence paints a positive picture of your organisation for prospective employees.

Consider where else your ideal new employees can be found. This tells you where to focus your efforts.

crooton’s unique employer fencing technology allows you to direct your recruitment efforts to precise locations. This can allow you to target potential new hires currently working in a potential investment zone or even those working for your competitors.

Stay up to date with the crooton blog

The past few weeks have demonstrated that the economic outlook can change rapidly. The recruitment market can change just as fast. Keep up to date with the latest developments on the crooton blog. We’ve covered some essential topics to help you stay recruitment-ready including our complete guide to recruitment in the construction industry, common recruitment mistakes and how to avoid them, and how to create and deliver a great employer brand.

Construction recruitment doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s important to be proactive and strategic. To help you get ahead of the curve, get in touch with us to discuss your specific needs with our expert team.