FifthEdge: “It's time to act now if 2030 visions have a chance”

FifthEdge’s Marcus Taylor on how the industry needs to avoid making the same mistakes with talent pooling

"I’m concerned that we are going to make the same mistakes as we have done in the past," says Taylor
"I’m concerned that we are going to make the same mistakes as we have done in the past," says Taylor

Well things are starting to pick up - bidding and rebidding continues to be a substantial resource and time drain on companies big and small.

Having been working closely with a number of the leading names in the industry, I’ve been very impressed in the manner adopted in trying to retain their staff. Not just in other projects near and far, but reassigning to other roles relying on exploring cross skillsets and aptitudes with minimal or no additional training.

As teams pivot to accommodate pressures of downsizing the real leaders have been stepping up.

The talent pooling focus remains pointed at KSA. With planning, project management, pre and post contract commercial and design being the key talent pooling areas we have seen a focus on, with construction supervision gaining momentum. 

KSA holds the cards for the regions focus on new projects, but still pose a risk with only 28% of candidates interested in working/remaining in the GCC, willing to relocate to the Kingdom.  

Still enough for many to keep raising the stakes, whether that is candidates spending their hard earned savings awaiting employment or employers investing more resources in the hope that the borders with open up and its ‘game on’.

Where does this leave employers and candidates now and what about the recruiters stuck in the middle? Many panicking employers doing what they have done time again at the foot of the precipice; trying to crawl their way back up by winning projects on cost, not quality. Under resourced and under qualified, inevitably putting their employees at risk of employment security when the developers see the repercussions of chasing the lowest bid.

Sleepless nights ahead for internal recruiters as pressure rises to talent pool new talent now that they have maximised existing resources.

Working hard to secure commitment from candidates on reduced budgets to match those still effected in their own camp.

The added inevitable risk of those talent being scooped up by the competition swiftly once the curtain falls, has those independent recruiters ready to circle like sharks with their advantage of their macro positioning.

What’s the solution this time round? Same as we always do? Stealing talent from each other using a bigger carrot and destroying any margin we fought tooth and claw to get while hoping that a new train pulls in from abroad packed with low cost, high quality skillsets?

From our side, that is unlikely in the current situation but possible if the ‘sizzle’ from the region becomes more attractive to outside help, beyond just cash. Especially if we start to consider those further afield than just those in our own backyard and with international experience.

Working as an industry in managing expectations and providing the ‘true’ picture of life in KSA is something we all have the responsibility to do.

As pressure grows to provide bodies in the region, integrity dips in this field if history is anything to go by.

There are some possible solutions to our problem which will ease the pain in my limited viewpoint.

Based upon what we have seen and the studies FifthEdge has undertaken. A considerable number of contractor talent available while most of the requirements are for consultants.

Our studies have shown that over the last 20 years there has been a considerable change across various disciplines, of those moving from contracting to consulting.

For example, from 2000 to 2015, 54% of planners that joined a consultant came directly from a contractor opposed to the 23% from 2015 to present.

Only 5% of project managers in the last five years have moved from a contractor to consultant. At the same time as 44% of project managers moved from consultant to developer. Anyone see a fast road to catastrophe here?

In my experience, those I have moved from a contractor to consultant over the 15 years that I was recruiting did very well; all be it with a small adjustment period.

Going from a 6/7 day week to a five day and not sweating in 49.9 degrees on site each summer seemed to be enough motivation to working hard in transferring a proven skillset.

A longer-term solution for boots on the ground, which is only gaining momentum for the more forward-thinking leaders; a holistic view of the industry and what we must undertake to accomplish the 2030 and 2050 visions.

Attracting young talent to our industry by leaving our archaic stereotype behind and also considering those from other industries that have and will be affected in days post-COVID.

Personally speaking, I’m concerned that we are going to make the same mistakes as we have done in the past. While being very proud of the attitude and progressive nature we have been currently adopting as an industry, especially by many of the fantastic employer brands FifthEdge represents.

But, as pressure mounts, leaders forced to care less about their legacy and their positive influence in the industry. Short falling learning & development budgets and other talent retaining initiatives.

Beyond the giga economy resource, the pillars of an ‘employer brand’ is what employers must focus on to break the mold.

It is this that shall empower our industry, retain and attract the talent who will bring tomorrow’s technology and show that the $500m building your standing in is far more advanced than the latest $300 smartphone you have in your pocket.

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