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The Infrastructure & Construction projects changing the face of Britain

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From transport network to energy generation and utilities to communications networks, Britain is about to be ‘upgraded’, providing a much-needed boost to the UK’s infrastructure companies and construction professionals.

In March 2016, the government released its National Infrastructure Delivery Plan outlining plans to invest over £100bn in infrastructure projects by 2021. If the 113 pages of the report come to fruition, then the face of Britain’s infrastructure will be massively altered over the coming years.
As a leading supplier of premium engineering talent to the UK’s Infrastructure & Construction industries we’ve scoured through the report (and the market as whole) to highlight those projects that are likely to have the biggest impact upon the engineering job market.
From transport networks to energy generation and utilities to communications networks, Britain is about to be 'upgraded', providing a much needed boost to the UK's infrastructure companies and construction professionals.
Thames Tideway Tunnel

London’s population is increasingly exponentially and the capital’s sewers are struggling to cope. After all, it’s a system that was originally built 150 years ago for a city with a population of only 4 million people. Because of this, the system is over-capacity and it’s estimated that as much as 39 million tonnes of sewage per year is flooding into the Thames.

The solution is the Thames Tideway Tunnel project which will stretch 15 miles and protect the Thames from further pollution. Construction began in 2016 and is expected to be completed around 2023. The project is expected to create thousands of construction jobs and capital outlay is expected to be in the region of £4.2 billion.

 High Speed 2

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years you’ll recognise this as arguably the most high-profile of the projects on this list.

Sparking fierce debate, the government is investing upwards of £55 billion in the construction of a high speed rail line from London to Birmingham and Manchester to Leeds, in what is the largest rail modernisation programme since Victorian times. Over 25,000 jobs are expected to be created across the lifetime of the project which is scheduled for completion by 2033.

 MeyGen Tidal Stream Project

One of the most innovative projects on this list is the MeyGen Tidal Stream project; the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm.

The project consists of four 1.5 MW turbines with 16m rotor diameter turbines submerged on the seabed. The high-speed currents of the area, which can reach up to 5 metres per second (11mph), make the chosen site in the Pentland Firth an ideal location for this form of energy generation.

It is expected that Phase 1A of the project will have an operational life of 25 years. Ultimately however, the company behind the project Tidal Power Scotland, aims to expand the project to 269 turbines with a capacity of 398 MW; enough to power as many as 175,000 homes.

Fun fact- the project derived its unusual name from the nearby Castle of Mey and ‘Gen’ for generation.

United Utilities Thirlmere Transfer Project

The Thirlmere Transfer Project has come about due to environmental concerns.

Ennerdale lake and the River Ehen are important sources of water supply for the region, however in attempt to reduce the amount of water taken from these sources and thus avoid harming many protected species, United Utilities are undertaking the £300m Thirlmere Transfer Project.

Involving the laying of 100km of pipeline, new water treatment works, 2 new service reservoirs, a new pumping station and a system of water pipes to distribute treated water, this project will safeguard future water supplies in the region. Up to 400 jobs will be created during the lifetime of the project.

Crossrail 2

Still in the planning stages, Crossrail 2 is hoping to take the lessons learned from Crossrail 1 to increase the capacity of the London rail system by 10% and increase access to the capital from the South East and other surrounding areas.

Headline figures regarding Crossrail 2 are impressive. Planners behind the project claim that Crossrail 2 will deliver 30 trains per hour to destinations across London from Hertfordshire and Surrey. Not only that, but the project will reportedly create additional capacity for up to 270,000 commuters travelling into and out of London at peak times.
Current figures being touted for the construction of Crossrail 2 are in the region of £30 billion.

Green Port Hull Project

Hull may currently be the official UK City of Culture 2017, but with the Green Port Hull Project the city is also positioning itself to be the unofficial capital of offshore wind.

The project includes investment in Hull’s Alexandria Dock, the construction of a new offshore wind turbine production plant, development of a supply chain of businesses to support biofuels, solar, wave and tidal power projects, and the launch of a dedicated Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering.

The project has already received buy-in from major renewable energy firms; most notably Siemens which has invested £310 million into Alexandra Dock. Ultimately, over 1,000 jobs are likely to result from the Green Port Hull Project.

 Electricity Interconnectors

With Brexit on the horizon there’s much talk of international trade and cross-border flows of capital. This project facilities that cross-border trade of electricity!

The project primarily involves the construction of underground and undersea cables connecting countries and borders to allow the flow and trade of electricity from one country to another. Overall the project will increase the interconnectors capacity to approximately 12GW by 2020.

What do these projects mean for the UK Infrastructure & Construction industry?

With these projects and more on the way, it is expected that the UK Infrastructure & Construction will quickly recover to pre-recession levels of activity. Indeed, the increased investment flows into the sector are set to increase work by up to 4.1% during 2017. This, in combination with growth recorded last year, is expected to bring in more than £10.4bn in revenue for the building industry which accounts for between 6-7% of GDP.

The competition for talent is heating up

Despite plentiful investment and forecasted projects, the UK Infrastructure & Construction industry is facing a new problem; increasing competition for the best engineering talent.

Since the 2008 recession, employee numbers have fallen by a staggering 13% (or 337,000 people). From Bricklayers to Project Managers, talent is in short order meaning that professionals are already being spread thinly across projects, costing employers a small fortune in inflated day rates. Consider, for example, that pay for bricklayers at one point in 2016 reached as high as £500 per day and you’ll recognise that this approach to talent management simply isn’t sustainable.

It’s highly likely that you’ve experienced significant skills shortages on at least one project, and, worryingly, they’re appearing before the new wave of major programmes outlined above have even begun.

The solution?

Build a pipeline of talent with Fircroft

Now is the time to partner with a recruitment firm that can build you a pipeline of appropriate talent for your forthcoming projects. Fircroft has been at the forefront of technical engineering recruitment since 1970, providing innovative workforce planning solutions that are rooted in comprehensive business intelligence, decades of experience and the unique skills of our Talent Acquisition Team.

Be it large volume mobilisations or specialist, hard-to-fill roles, Fircroft has the experience, expertise and commitment to excellence to ensure that you secure the best talent for your business.

Plan your future workforce requirements with Fircroft, today. And, if you’re looking for your next job in construction explore our latest vacancies now.

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The Infrastructure & Construction projects changing the face of Britain - Time to read 7 min
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