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Construction in North East Scotland

Construction North East

The construction industry in Scotland is growing inexorably, especially in the Northeast of Scotland where the demand for a workforce in the construction sector continues to increase rapidly.

Positive developments in the property market

With the recovery of the oil and gas sector in Aberdeen, the property market has also bounced back - there are many large-scale long term housing developments on site or in the pipeline around the Aberdeen area. According to the Construction Skills Network (CSN) Report by Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the future of housing in Scotland looks positive as a 3.7 per cent growth in public housing each year is expected for the 2018-2022 period, with private housing growing at 2.9 per cent.

Housing projects such as the 3,000 home scheme- Countesswells Housing Development in Aberdeen and the Winchburn village Developments in West Lothian are the main drivers of this industry growth spurt.

Repair and maintenance of existing buildings is also scheduled to grow, with a year on year average rise of 2.6 per cent, and 1.7 per cent for non-housing related work.

Large developers have already started noticing an upward trend in sales. Darroch Robertson, partner at Graham + Sibbald, in an interview with Project Scotland pointed towards the positive gradient in sales in the Aberdeen market and said

“feedback across the property sector is that the residential market appears to have reached a base level and there are signs of improvement with a number of local housebuilders reporting that visitor traffic is up on developments and sales numbers have been very positive so far in 2018.

Major Projects

As well as ambitious housing projects, there is a multitude of Aberdeen based, large multi-million-pound projects in progress, such as:

  • AWPR Aberdeen Western peripheral Route - Main Contractor: Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty)
  • Aberdeen Harbor Project - Main Contractor: Dragados
  • AECC Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Center - Main Contractor: Robertson
  • Union Terrace Gardens Redevelopment - Main Contractor to be announced

Although the construction activity in Aberdeen is at a record high, attracting the right candidates for permanent management roles and commercial staff continues to be the biggest challenge for employers.

Candidate shortage

Candidates for specific roles such as Estimators and Quantity Surveyors, ranging from graduate to senior level, are currently in high demand in the Aberdeen construction market. Consequently, the demand for staff is driving salaries and benefits greatly, with senior commercial staff reaching salaries up to £65k.

One major barrier to progress is the sector’s inability to attract young people. Scottish Funding Council statistics show that there were 20,077 enrolments by further education students in construction related courses in 2005/6, but just 17,356 in 2015/16.

To address recruitment needs, the CITB has formed a Home Building Skills Partnership with the Home Builders Federation to train thousands of new entrants and experienced workers alike by 2019.

The Federation of Master Builders recently reported that construction apprentices earn more per year than many of their university graduate counterparts, demonstrating the positive outcomes this career route offers young people in Scotland. Many contractors in Aberdeen have started offering apprenticeships, industrial placements and work experience to young graduates and students in their 3rd or 4th year of university to stoke their interest in the sector.

Other efforts have also been made to attract the students and young workforce in the area such as the establishment of the Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project Visitor Centre in January 2018. Since its opening, members of over 30 groups, organisations and educational establishments have been able to get an in-depth insight into one of the largest marine engineering projects taking place in the North East of Scotland for many decades. It has been successful in inspiring many students from schools and universities in the region.

Many activities have been undertaken to boost productivity through innovation, make the industry more lucrative, and build a new future for the sector.  Construction Scotland (the industry leadership group) has launched an industry-led construction innovation centre, which will focus and deliver HEI support/expertise and accelerate the development of new construction products, systems and services by businesses.

As far as retention of staff is concerned, communication with employees to make sure that the salaries and benefits in place are at the market rate is the key to retention.


The construction sector is crucial to Scotland’s economy as it delivers £21.4bn (9%) of Scotland’s GDP and currently employs 170,000 people (10% of total Scottish jobs), with a further 38,000 people in the materials supply chain. But in the words of Ian Hughes, the CITB’s partnerships director in Scotland, “the reality is that in ten years’ time, around 20 per cent of the industry workforce will have retired”. With this in mind, the job opportunities in the construction sector are truly vast and well paying, and will only grow even more in the future.

Get started by browsing our latest Construction jobs or contact Adam on 01224 653382 or at Adam.Emery@Edenscott.com.

Adam Emery, who has joined as a Senior Consultant brings 5 years of experience, specialising in the construction sector in North-east Scotland. Over the past 5 years, he has established an extensive candidate network that allows him to provide high-quality service to clients and recruit the best people for their business.

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