Strengthening your Recruitment in a time of Shortage

Strengthening your Recruitment in a time of Shortage

With the sector needing to recruit more than 5,000 new entrants each year to maintain output and keep up with the forecasted growth of the construction industry the need for employers and those joining the industry to understand the different routes of entry is more important than ever.  FIS is producing Skills Fact Sheets to provide information, advice and guidance on the various ways young people get introduced to the construction industry and the finishes and interiors sector, including Apprenticeships, Traineeships, T-Levels and Degrees.  Whilst not all employers can take on an apprentice, most can offer work experience or provide support to schools, colleges or universities to help inspire the next generation to choose construction.

Attract T-Level students through work placement

There are a number of progression options open to sixth form students.  These include skilled employment, an apprenticeship and/or university education.  If you would like to offer an Industrial Placement for T-Level students, you can register at Employers Next Steps or call 08000 150 600 (choose option 4).  There is T Levels and industry placement support for employers available for employers that explains the process and expectations.

T-Levels are courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to 3 A levels.  These 2-year courses are for 16 to 19 year olds, sixth form students, and have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study.  T-Levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and ‘on-the-job’ experience during an industry placement of at least 45 days.  Most of the learning will take place in the classroom which makes them different from an Apprenticeship.  The industrial placement can take place as a block, day release or a mix of these.  There are currently two Construction T-Levels:

  • Design, surveying and planning for construction the course offers a core knowledge of how the construction industry works, the principles of design and the role of technology and sustainability. Students then have the chance to specialise in either Building services design, Civil engineering, Hazardous materials analysis or surveying.
  • Onsite construction learners have the option to cover at least one trade from a choice of bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, painting and decorating or plastering.

There’s CSCS Card for Industry Placement: specially for T-Level and Traineeship students.

Traineeships are for people not in employment, contact your local college and ask what Traineeships they are delivering and how your organisation can support by offering a work placement.  There is a Traineeship for Dryliners.

Become a STEM Ambassador

FIS is working with the Construct STEM Ambassador network to produce presentation packages bespoke to finishes and interiors occupations.  FIS is hosting a one hour webinar on Wednesday 07 September 2022 starting at 12:00 on how to become a Construction STEM Ambassador for more details and to register please here.  This webinar is intended to help members understand what they can do to build the pipeline of skills and support new entrants to find their first opportunity in construction and hopefully in the sector.  The commitment as an Ambassador is deliver at two events per year.

Harness the skills of HM Forces leavers

HM Forces Service Leavers are considered a strong recruitment source of willing capable people.  FIS are partnered with the charity Building Heroes and this organisation is an FIS member.  Established in 2014, Building Heroes is a gateway service supporting military families.  This organisation provides training and employment support to service leavers who are looking for a new career in construction by training individuals with a broad range of trade skills and then connecting them with a network of employers.  Building Heroes recruitment provides a personalised service that matches the right candidate to the right job.  Embedded in their training is a Drylining option, aligned to the FIS BuildBack programme.  The organisation is currently looking to place individuals who have completed this programme (a two weeks of introduction) with Fit-out employers.  For further information including details of their introduction fees please contact Rachel Fianko

In addition, the Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA) also provide support to Service leavers, reservists, veterans and their families to enable them to access new careers and training opportunities. Through their links with the Careers Transition Partnership, employers can access a high quality, no cost recruitment service.  Candidates are highly motivated and experienced ex-military personnel, ready to bring their considerable skills and abilities to your organisation.  Find out more

Utilise Job Centre Plus

The Department for Work and Pensions can arrange work placements through Job Centre Plus.  This service together with a variety of employer support for recruitment is available free of charge for more details see here.

FIS is here to help and has a section on our website dedicated to collating advice, ideas and support to help your recruitment efforts – you can access information on recruiting school leavers, ex-offenders, service leavers, career switchers, offering work placements and how to focus on greater diversity here.  If you want to talk about what more you can do and the support available for your own efforts to recruit, FIS have a dedicated team to help.

Michelle Armstrong appointed FIS Head of Membership

Michelle Armstrong appointed FIS Head of Membership

FIS is delighted to announce the appointment of Michelle Armstrong as Head of Membership. The role has been newly created in support of the company’s growth strategy, achieved by the development of a programme of member engagement and recruitment activities.

Michelle has over two decades of experience in the construction industry, having worked for the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) since 2000. She is a skilled and practised Company Development advisor, making her FIS’ clear choice to fulfil the new position of Head of Membership.

In her new role, Michelle will continue to develop the company’s growth strategy by developing and leading a programme of member engagement and recruitment activities. She has most recently worked as an Area Delivery Manager for CITB, ensuring she brings a wealth of organisational experience to the new role in addition to her recruitment background.

Michelle’s extensive career in construction has given her great insight into the sector, allowing her to understand how the industry operates and the obstacles faced by members. This understanding will be fundamental to her new role, as she will help to overcome these systemic challenges.

The role will see Michelle at the forefront of ensuring that FIS is a dynamic and growing membership community, alert and responsive to the challenges members face and delivering effective and practical support.

Working with the FIS Community in this new role, Michelle will lead the company’s efforts to strengthen relationships with members through improved account management and formulating an effective regional strategy, ensuring member retention remains exceptional and FIS continues to attract new members and grow.

Michelle commented: “After 21 years working for CITB and navigating the challenges of the construction industry, I am delighted to be joining FIS. I look forward to working with colleagues in continuing to provide a first-class service to our members, as well as extending our influence to new members.”

Commenting on the new appointment, FIS CEO Iain Mcilwee said:  “We are excited to have Michelle join the team, she builds a wealth of experience in developing and managing relationships.  FIS is a Membership body and a voice for the sector – to be effective we need to engage with our members, to listen and ensure that they are accessing all we have to offer and matching our resources to meeting their challenges head on.   The organisation has been steadily growing and it is the right time that we bring someone in to help us to better structure and manage relationships, to support ongoing growth built on a foundation of active engagement, open communication and dynamic support.“

For further information or for any questions please contact the FIS at or call 0121-707-0077.

CPA Summer Forecast – commercial up, but housing more subdued

CPA Summer Forecast – commercial up, but housing more subdued

The Construction Products Association (CPA) latest Summer Forecasts are predicting growth in the commercial construction sector continuing to 2024, with warehouses particularly driving the sector forwards.

Prospects for the Housing Sector are, however more subdued with just 1.1% growth predicted for 2022 and a static market expected in 2023.

Forecasts have been revised down across both sectors due to the lagged impact of rising inflation and, consequently, slower economic growth prospects on construction industry demand likely to mean that the industry potentially sees the value of output previously expected but not the volume.


Overall across the public and private housing market CPA predicts new builds to stabilise at a little over 200,000 houses per year.   As economic activity slows, falling consumer confidence and spending, as well as slowing house price growth and the end of Help to Buy in 2023, means that potential homeowners are becoming more risk averse.

Commercial Construction

The CPA report outlines that whilst the pipeline of new towers has improved, they remain a bit thin on the ground compared to historic levels, with concerns around viability linked to inflation and underlying economic conditions potentially causing further delays to planned starts.

Fit-out, however, continues to benefit from the upgrading of existing space and demand for refurbished high-end grade A office space from tenants wishing to downsize to smaller, better quality office space as previous leases finish.  The sector is also benefitting from continued changes in use from commercial to residential or warehouses/logistics.

Energy efficiency considerations as part of net zero and corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) requirements are also reported to be driving investment and an interesting point, attributed to Savills in the report, is a widening rent differential between grade A space with strong ESG credentials and grade B or C space.

The report does, however repeatedly highlight the huge variance in forecasts seen for the economy that underpin levels of volatility that add to the downside risks.

For warehouses, the ongoing structural shift towards e-commerce will continue to underpin strong demand for warehousing and distribution space, and this has shored up a pipeline of pre-let and speculative work. At the same time, factories construction activity is set to pick up as progress is made on both existing and planned scheme.

Alongside major capital investment in education, facilities to help compete at a global level, universities and private providers are continuing to invest heavily in purpose-built student accommodation, particularly given the strong growth in international (non-EU) students in recent times.

Public Non Housing

A concern is flagged in the report with publicly-funded projects experiencing strong rates of build cost inflation that may lead to delays.

This is a particular risk for larger planned hospital projects that have already experienced a near-doubling in cost estimates, even before the current inflationary pressures. For fixed-price contracts, it may be the case that higher costs mean the value of work is maintained, but volumes decrease.

Download the latest forecast report here

FIS members can access the latest CPA Forecast.

Procuring for Success in the Finishes and Interiors Sector

Procuring for Success in the Finishes and Interiors Sector

FIS, University of Reading, AMA Research and Barbour ABI are working together to understand how the fit-out, finishes and interiors sector can deliver better value and improve supply chain relationships.  You can complete our survey here.

The £10 billion fit-out, finishes and interiors sector puts the ‘wow’ into buildings – turning structures into functional, comfortable and safe environments. Homes, shops, offices, hospitals and schools are all rendered operational through fit-out. The workforce of 250,000 provides the essential scenery and settings which shape the lived experiences of building users. If construction is indeed to be assessed on perceptions of ‘value’, then the fit-out sector punches way above its weight.

Whether it be refurbishment or newbuild, construction of the interior system is a particularly time-sensitive and complex part of the building process and relies on robust procurement. Trade body, Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS), is looking to better understand the challenges our industry is facing, how current procurement practices work and more importantly, can be improved.

The nature of the procurement process is often identified as a barrier to change. Dame Judith Hackitt’s statement from the 2018 ‘Building a Safer Future’ Report, confirmed that ‘Improving the procurement process will play a large part in setting the tone for any construction project. This is where the drive for quality and good outcomes, rather than lowest costs must start.’

Whilst previous research has been published on mainstream construction procurement, such studies often fail to address the experienced realities of the specialist finishes and interiors sector. FIS recognises that more needs to be done to understand how procurement practices are affecting the fast-moving fit-out industry.

Reaching into the Supply Chain

As an initial phase, the group are inviting all in the supply chain to take part in this study and are keen to give a voice to all those doing the work to better understand how procurement practices in the finishes and interiors sector are working and need to evolve.

The research has been commissioned by FIS as part of its focus on supporting positive transformation within the sector. The aim is to benchmark current practices and explore how procurement impacts effective delivery.

Data will be gathered in the strictest of confidence and aggregated to support the wider research. All those responding will be issued a final copy of the report.

FIS Chief Executive Iain Mcllwee stated: “The key to unlocking the potential of construction and unleashing the culture change that we need in the finishes and interiors sector sits squarely in procurement. That isn’t a revelation. Virtually every report written about the sector has raised concerns about procurement practices that facilitate a race to the bottom and create adversarial relationships.

Our sector is complex and fast moving, too fast at times. To work out where we are going we need to be honest and open about where we are at, understand the real time pressures we are creating, the pinch points, to take stock, benchmark and vitally, to understand from all parts of the supply chain how we can improve.

The regulatory, environmental, commercial and moral drivers for change have never been stronger and this research is an exercise in active listening, an opportunity to give voice to all in the supply chain and the start of a practical call to action for positive change.”

Professor Stuart Green from the University of Reading commented: “Procurement is undoubtedly of central importance to construction performance. But despite many well-intentioned previous initiatives, few have bothered to access the reality of how procurement operates within the finishes and interiors sector. We are seeking to redress this imbalance by collecting evidence from those directly involved. In striving to improve procurement practice, it is vital to establish the baseline from which we are starting. Wishful thinking alone will not deliver the sustained improvement in practice which is undeniably necessary.”

You can access the survey here.

For further information or for any questions please contact FIS at or call 0121 707 0077.