Building Materials Recruitment Trends 2024

Niamh Thompson

We’re deep into 2024, meaning it’s time to give an update on Building Materials trends our specialists have been keeping their eyes on.

But first, let’s reflect on 2023 predictions.  

Building materials recruitment trends in 2023 were exactly what we thought. Businesses streamlined; several manufacturers and merchants made redundancies; there were more candidates on the market.   

The housing market has really slowed due to the cost of living and mortgage interest rates slowing down sales. This is making new-build manufacturers take their foot off the gas (there’s no point having loads of newly built houses if demand isn’t there).  

Ultimately, this means that there will be less jobs in the industry. Leading to our first predictions for 2024 building materials recruitment trends – albeit very similar to those we made at the start of 2023. 

Redundancies, Redundancies, Redundancies

We expected to see a lot of redundancies in early 2024. But there have not been as many as we thought there would be in Q1 & 2. Instead, we’ve seen a high number of clients looking to strengthen their sales teams

When it comes down to planning for the rest of this year, businesses will be aiming for stability, rather than growth. Many of our clients have said it’s about having the right person in the right role, selling through multiple routes to market. 

From conversations we’ve had with a range of clients. There were many reasons for redundancies in the final quarter of 2023. Some were due to streamlining, others because of headcount being too high, and a few to please shareholders.

With many acquisitions and mergers over 2023, several redundancies were just a result of how those businesses wanted to grow in 2024. Stripping back to rebuild – so watch this space!

Return to growth is coming

Although the UK economy was close to being in a recession in 2023, which heavily impacted our industry. Reports suggest that a return to growth is expected in the second half of 2024. And this will continue through to 2027.

But from conversations we have had so far in 2024, merchants and manufacturers are having to hustle and really fight for the business. Ultimately right now, margins are having to be squeezed. 

Our partners, Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), have forecasted that building materials sales will improve later in 2024. With interest rates beginning to fall, and the general election which is bound to affect things.

Skills shortage

impacting hiring…

…and so skills

outweigh experience

With an ageing workforce and a desperate need to attract the next generation into the building materials supply industry. Through 2024-25, there will be a big focus on apprenticeships and bringing thousands of people into our industry. Building talent from the ground up and providing them with the necessary skills.

The skills shortage sweeping through this industry right now will inevitably impact hiring. You’re going to have to dig through candidates to find someone who possesses the appropriate skills. And the reality is that these individuals probably won’t have direct experience within the building materials sector.  

Skills will begin to outweigh experience. Understanding the market and necessary skills inside and out is crucial when finding talent from outside of the industry. And part of this is truly knowing what you’re looking for.  

Before you start hiring, make a wish list of the qualities and skills you want the ideal candidate to possess. The good thing is that we’ve seen an increase in the number of candidates applying for roles and looking to move on to new challenges. So, there’s definitely the talent there for you to dig through. 

Leveraging Social Media  

(We’ve seen other organisations predict this and they’ve hit the nail on the head!)  

In a competitive market, with fewer and fewer jobs, social media is a great way to get all the important information out there. Not only is it the perfect way to differentiate yourself from other organisations, but you can really communicate the values and culture of your company.  

Social media can be utilised by everyone within the recruitment process, candidates, clients, and recruiters themselves (our specialists’ LinkedIn accounts are a prime example of this).  

Recruitment isn’t just about when you need to hire. You need to lay the foundations for an efficient process when positions open. That’s why company branding is so important. It’s worth being proactive with your social media to build up your company brand.

The same goes for building a personal brand. You should utilise social media to highlight your assets, transferable skills, and relevant experience. This way, when you’re in the market for a new opportunity and begin the recruitment process, your green flags are waving for everyone to see. 

On top of using social media, a good job description is crucial – but there’s a knack to this. We can help you craft a perfect job description showcasing what stands out to the top, ideal talent.  

If you go for our immersive recruitment package, we can help amplify your brand, taking your marketing to the next level to attract skilled individuals who share your passion.  

Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion 

Diversity and inclusion are rising in priority among organisations. We predict to see an emphasis on diverse candidate sourcing, inclusive job descriptions, and unbiased selection processes. 

The building materials sector is well known for being a male-dominated industry. However, massive efforts are being made to encourage women to join the industry. Our Divisional manager, Natalie, is leading that movement in every way she can. Check out her blog with #YesSheCan

We believe that to achieve true diversity and inclusion, you should focus on putting the right person with the right skills in the right job for the right reasons. If we want to attract a more diverse range of people into our industry, we need to recruit those with transferable skills, not just industry experience.

If we can help it, this is a building materials recruitment trend that you’ll see rising in 2024! 

Summary

Like any other year, 2024 has and will have its recruitment trials and tribulations. But it’s not all bad news. 2024 so far hasn’t seen as many redundancies as expected. And a return to growth is (hopefully) pending, meaning that things will be on the incline again.  

As an industry, we’ve come so far around apprenticeships, diversity and inclusion, and recruiting on transferable skills (not just industry experience). But there’s still so much more we can do to truly put our industry on the map.  

If you want more information about how to recruit for this changing market in 2024, fill out this form to book a free 15-minute conversation with our Building materials divisional manager Natalie Chapman.  

The Experts Behind the Blog

Adam-Dolman-Stirling-Warrington-Director-Building-Materials-Recruitment-Round-Photo

Adam Dolman, SW’s Director, has a background in recruiting in the Building Materials industry. Working in the KBB industry and building materials sector. Not only does he bring insights from his almost 10 years in the industry. Adam also brings a fresh perspective that helps you to innovate recruitment practices. 

Natalie Chapman is the Divisional Manager for our Building Materials Recruitment team. She has over 18 years of experience in recruiting within the sector, so has seen everything from the recession to COVID! She delivers a wealth of knowledge about the recruitment and selection process. 

Natalie firmly sits within the industry around our partnerships with the NMBS and BMF. And as Chair of the BMF ambassadors group, she has an edge that many don’t.