It’s always a candidate short market.

I first started recruiting for Quantity Surveyors in post GFC Ireland. It was 2012, the hangover of the credit crunch was severe and most businesses in the Northern Ireland construction & manufacturing industries were working 3-day weeks.

The Celtic Tiger in the South had been obliterated and Architects and Consultants where shutting down all over the show. There was no such thing as job keeper stimulus packages. It was just grey, and bleak and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Most Irish construction businesses diverted their attention to the London market. As it was at the time, Russian Oligarchs where investing in luxury residential apartments and “Notting Hill” Style Victorian Houses all over Western London. This created a bubble of work.

Cheap Irish labour hit the London market in droves.

Carpenters, brick layers, site engineers, project managers, quantity surveyors. They all went. From small town Ireland to the big city lights.

This is where I cut my teeth, convincing a man/woman in rural Ireland to work in affluent London for an Irish Salary (about 40% less than the equivalent London Salary) and work a 12/2 roster.

Did they do it? Of course, they did because in construction you go where the work is and where there is work, there is the Irish.

At the beginning I had my heart broken a number of times with Mercenary Site Managers and Engineers. Often tempted by an extra few grand a year, they would pack up and head to another project two streets down.

I decided to focus my attention to Quantity Surveyors.

I thought QS’s were a little bit more concerned about their careers. Less likely to leave a project halfway through and surely there would be a market for commercial orientated employees during a recession.

I was right.

Within 6 months I had more jobs than I could ever fill all over the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The candidate shortage was severe, the 4 years between 2008 – 2012 meant that graduates shifted towards over disciplines. There was hardly any new life blood coming into the industry and as demand outweighed supply, salary increases were unprecedented.

I began to understand for the first time that for Educated Quantity Surveyors, strong in pre contract planning and post contract delivery who flourish under the lights of client & stake holder engagement, there will always be a market.

As it is nearly 9 years later, at the other side of the world, we’re in the exact same situation.

Is there a market for the above right now in Australia?


This market is fickle, it’s not going to take much for confidence to rise, as shown in how quickly it’s dropped.

When the lights come back on and the music starts playing, demand is likely to be off the charts. Companies will need to rehire the % of staff they have let go and most will want to make up for lost ground during Covid.

But, things will be different this time.

There will be a desire to “set things right” and to avoid hiring the shit kickers at all costs. Nobody needs that extra overhead right now, so potential value must outweigh potential risk.

There will be a demand for the well-rounded QS’s who articulate, good communicators are and can add significant value to the client.

And that candidate is still extremely hard to find.

Beware of anyone who tells you different.

If there is anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s that when you can you must because we don’t know what’s coming around the corner.

My old man says to me, “Make hay while the sun shines son”

I woke up this morning and realised, summer isn’t far away.


Written by Mick Donaghy
Managing Director of Franklin Smith Australia
Specialists in Cost & Pre Contracts Recruitment

Connect with Mick on Linkedin here

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