How to exit the COVID crisis on a stronger footing


Sherlock works with a number of small to medium-sized companies, many that were scaling rapidly and will use our services to increase site staff on a project basis.  The COVID crisis has hit them the hardest. Steve Bowcott CEO of John Sisk & Son recently expressed his concern about how the Irish Construction Industry has changed irreversibly and is predicted to slow down by as much as 30%  in the upcoming year.  A large number of our clients will have limited resources to buffer the cash flow and expense issues that are on the horizon, many of them are having sleepless nights wondering how they are going to be able to cut costs at work while still maintaining productivityWhat happens if we are thrown into lockdown again?   Increasing profit margins doesn’t come cheap. There are financial and non-financial costs of doing so. So how can finance, operations and business managers afford them as the healthcare crisis gives way to a rapidly approaching economic one? 

The hard truth is that the majority of businesses in Ireland have had to let go of staff since COVID-19 reached our shores. Cutting labour costs is always one way of maintaining profit margins in a crisis. Of course, other factors such as redundancy costs (particularly now that the 60% government rebate is gone), inventory, logistics, rent and lower revenue all impact profit margins. 

Letting staff go, cutting wages, renegotiating rent and new credit terms for inventory can only continue for so long before we need to get a little bit more creative in order to stay ahead of competitors.  

Interestingly there study done by American giant Costco that was published in the  Harvard Business Review revealing that the foundation of their success, year after year, crisis after crisis, was due to low staff turnover rates. Harvard found that Costco’s staff turnover rates (of first-year employees) were less than 10% compared to the industry average of 65%. 

An often-overlooked risk in a downturn comes when employers least expect it – the recovery stage. Why? Because our best staff, those we strategically kept during the crisis, tend to leave quickly for another company during the recovery period. 

This churn has been attributed to several root causes: 

  • Natural risks of a bad hire. 
  • Those highly skilled people that bought into the “start-up dream” tend to retreat back to the multinationals.
  • Your employees haven’t been exposed to other companies’ management responses to the crisis and therefore ‘the grass is (somewhat) greener’ 
  • They are unsure of their current employers’ sustainability either because they have been continuously exposed to recurring bad news or because of lack of hope, due to the lack of communication from leaders expressing their own hope, future strategies and sustainability plans. 
  • The wage cuts that were imposed during the crises were higher than industry and/or competitor averages. 
  • Economically, there are more jobs available in a recovering economy. ‘New climate, new job’. 
  • Naturally, burnout is higher in businesses during a crisis.  
  • Many of their critical teammates could have been made redundant and they are expected to pick up the slack. 

There are so many reasons why employee churn can increase in the recovery phase and employers should expect some great staff to leave.  As construction planners, of course, you must consider the liquidity risks when the wage subsidy scheme comes to an end and future revenue. But as business people, you must consider the blindside risk of higher staff turnover post lockdown on top of potentially further short-term redundancy decisions which also bring redundancy costs and lost opportunities.  

Many SMEs are under a lot of stress right now, but it’s important not to be too focused on the short term –  Warned Mary Connaughton of the CIPD, a professional body for HR professionals (The Sunday Times, June 7, 2020). 

In order to avoid these costs and more, you need to communicate your company’s plans for the future including its financial and operational sustainability in order to keep your existing team tight and staff turnover low. But more importantly, it’s time to look at your numbers and consider alternative ways to improve profit margins in ways your competitors are not. 

The Harvard report noted Costco’s low staff turnover rates was due, in part, to the higher wages and company benefits they offer their staff compared to Walmart – their biggest competitor. Despite this, Forbes also found that Costco offers the smallest markups on their products at 15% or less, compared with 25% for supermarkets and 50% for department stores.  

So, how does retaining high labour costs and lower markups translate into higher profit margins? By spending less on hiring and recruiting. 

According to a recent HR Barometer report, the average cost of recruiting a replacement employee in Ireland is 37% of their salary. With an average salary in Ireland sitting at €39,000, that’s roughly €14,430 to replace an employee, on average. 

Taking a hypothetical example, if the average cost to replace an employee in your business today is €14,430 but only €10,000 for a competitor (because they continued to cut wages further), it looks like your competitors win. Based on a company size of 100 people, if you keep your staff turnover rate at 11% (Ireland’s average) and 11 employees hand in their notice in the weeks/months following a crisis but your competitors have double the number that leaves (22% – for reasons outlined earlier), your cost of turnover will be €158,730 compared to your competitors, €220,000.  

The most impactful point made in the Harvard Business Review study is the amount of revenue Costco made per employee compared to Walmart though. Costco earned $43 billion in 2005 compared with $37 billion for Walmart and with 38% less hiring. That translates to “$21,805 in U.S. operating profit per hourly employee, compared with $11,615 at Walmart”.  

Therefore, Costco generated almost twice the revenue per employee than its closest competitor. Perhaps you risk liquidity issues and can’t offer the high wages that Costco does, but you can improve your hiring, communicate and plan more effectively to ensure your team is the best to begin with. Adding to this you can reduce your risk to hire further by Utilising a service such a Sherlock’s for long term projects, temporary to permanent hires or simple to gain access to highly-skilled, qualified trades and labour who are very happy working on projects and remain working for Sherlock as they are moved to their next assignment or project and they stick together through good times and bad. This will improve your operations and increase your operating profit in a way that is often overlooked.  

Similar to COVID-19, staff attrition is a silent killer. It pushes your costs up, pushes your margins down and throws your ability to capture opportunities in a changed market out the window. 

You need to hire a strong team and you need that team to deliver quickly and effectively and to reduce your risk of hire because you want them to stay in good times and bad. When it comes to significantly reducing your staff turnover, cutting your hiring costs and improving your profit margins, a trusted staffing solutions provider like Sherlock can help you do this in ways your competitors are overlooking.  

Don’t have the time to plan? Well at Sherlock we work closely with our clients in a consultative manner, with in-depth industry knowledge and site management procedures we can project manage and plan your project as you need it. Walso provide no-obligation consultations for non-clients as well who need to understand the playing field better, providing you with a roadmap to keep your business on track.  You can contact our account manager anytime in relation to your people strategy. 

Where you can, hold on to your existing team by offsetting some of the common reasons people leave a company post-crisis that I mentioned earlier. Remind them of their value, acknowledge their contributions and don’t just assume that they are grateful for not being fired. Communicate your future strategy and sustainability. 

Instead of planning for your next round of redundancies, you should start speaking to Sherlock to start contingency planning for when key people leave in a recovery. Make sure you have teams of people who are ready to step in. You don’t want to be faced with redundancy costs and staff turnover costs in recovery. Avoid the herd mentality of further redundancies in the short term as you may be hit with staff turnover costs soon. Rather keep the staff you have, and bring on extra staff risk-free through Sherlock while developing your pipeline of project workers.  When your competitors keep cutting wages and make redundancies, be the industry outlier by spotting the financial opportunities that exist with a good hiring and people strategy.  

Spend less on hiring and recruiting. Fast efficient hiring with a trusted recruitment partner with a long history of success and in-depth industry knowledge will result in better hires, lower staff turnover and an improved employer brand, as well as higher productivity. Taken together, or independently, these inputs will ultimately improve your profit margins significantly and put more time in your busy schedule. 

Working with Sherlock, whether it’s for your contract / temporary recruitment or your permanent recruitment will become a new competitive advantage for your business when it comes to increasing your profit margins in ways you might not have considered before as we return to work post the COVID-19 lockdown. 



Returning To Work Safely

A ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol‘ has been prepared to assist employers in implementing measures to protect their employees. The protocol is a live document which will be updated regularly, and should be used by all employers to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply with the Covid-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE).

Employers should keep in mind that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place may risk a resurgence of Covid-19. They should therefore be cautious about making long-term commitments to employees and make clear that any return to work measures will continue to be reviewed and adapted in accordance with evolving government guidance.

The protocol advises that, in preparation for returning to work, employers should:

  • appoint at least one clearly identifiable lead worker representative charged with ensuring that Covid-19 measures are strictly adhered to in their place of work. Individuals undertaking this role must receive the necessary training and have a structured framework to follow within the organisation to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus;
  • consult with workers and safety representatives on safety measures to be implemented;
  • provide a Covid-19 training induction for all workers;
  • develop or update their Covid-19 response plan. This should include any updates to health and safety risk assessments and safety statement as discussed below;
  • keep a log of any group work in order to facilitate contract tracing;
  • develop or amend policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of workers who develop symptoms of Covid-19;
  • develop, consult, communicate and implement workplace changes or policies with workers to include a response plan to deal with suspected cases of Covid-19 in the workplace and what to do if a worker displays symptoms during work hours; and
  • implement Covid-19 prevention and control measures to minimise risk to workers including a pre-return to work form for workers to complete at least three days in advance of return, any controls identified in the risk assessment such as staggered breaks, social distancing and physical barriers, and temperature testing in line with public health advice.

Employers should keep in mind that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place may risk a resurgence of Covid-19.

Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority will oversee compliance with the protocol in the workplace. HSA inspectors will visit the workplace and advise on any shortcomings through a Report of Inspection, which is left with the employer at the end of the visit and can include timelines and follow-ups needed. The inspectors also have the power to serve an Improvement Notice, a legal directive from an inspector requiring that certain improvements be carried out in a specified time-frame, or a Prohibition Notice, a legal instruction directing that a specified work activity be stopped.

The CIF has published checklists and templates to help employers, business owners and managers to get their businesses up and running again, and to inform workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The CIF also provides critical C-19 training that should be taken by every employee returning to work.

Employers’ health and safety obligations

Employers in Ireland have a number of legal duties under health and safety law, including:

  • duty to protect the health, as well as safety, of their employees;
  • duty to protect others who may be exposed to health risks as a result of the employer’s activities, including members of the public, service users and contractors; and
  • duty to manage safety risks from workplaces under the employer’s control.

As a result, protecting the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace as they return to work will be paramount for employers.

Employers, in conjunction with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, should:

  • keep up to date with the latest public health guidance, local government advice and World Health Organisation (WHO) updates, and communicate these to employees. The HSA has helpful guidance for employers on its website, which is frequently being updated;
  • conduct a risk assessment on health and safety before any return to the workplace, and put in place relevant measures to ensure the health and safety of employees in line with health and safety law and guidance and HSE guidance. The assessment should cover risks posed by premises, working conditions and the composition of the workplace. For example, workstations may need to be moved to ensure there is a 2m distance between workers;
  • communicate clearly and early with employees on your plans to reopen and any new policies you wish to introduce. Consider providing guidance and establishing protocols on any workplace measures to be adopted;
  • brief line managers and HR staff on company policy, using an FAQ guidance document. Ensure there is a consistent message to all employees on the process and company policy;
  • assess who will return, bearing in mind that the greater the number of people who enter the workplace the greater the risk. Careful consideration will need to be given to how to select which employees are to return to work or to come off lay-off, bearing in mind issues such as potential discrimination and procedural fairness. Some employees may not want to return to work due to caring responsibilities or for health reasons, and consideration should be given as to whether these employees can continue to work from home or remain on temporary lay-off, where applicable;
  • consider working hours and arrangements, which may include ways to limit the number of staff commuting at peak travel hours or staggering start and end times to minimise the risk of infection – for example, creating two cohorts with half the department working from home and half in the office each day in order to balance operations with practical measures. If contractual working hours need to be changed, consult with the employees and get their consent prior to any changes taking affect;
  • display HSE posters around the workplace to raise awareness of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19;
  • keep up to date with the latest guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees must be given the correct PPE and work equipment for their job if they are required to come into work. Employers should also ensure that they have adequate stocks of PPE, and may need to consider what other measures to put in place if the supply of PPE is disrupted;
  • put in place practical measures to support those on site such as hand washing facilities, additional hand sanitiser stations, antibacterial wipes and appropriate signage, and check and re-stock these regularly;
  • organise for work areas and frequently-touched surfaces to be cleaned at regular intervals;
  • consider whether canteens, gyms and other staff facilities should re-open, bearing in mind that there may be contractual commitments in outsourced contracts requiring facilities to be open if the building is in use;
  • continue to reduce to the absolute minimum or cancel non-essential business travel and encourage employees to conduct meetings via video conferencing software. Where this is not possible, provide additional guidance on essential business travel and the expectations of the company in order to ensure employees have sufficient guidance;
  • assess the risks around third parties entering the workplace, as there is a legal obligation to ensure their health and safety;
  • whether or not an employer recognises a trade union, early engagement on its plans with employees should help ensure understanding or cooperation. Union engagement may be required where changes to working hours and other terms and conditions are needed, although agreement or consent to any changes will be required regardless of union presence. More generally, unions and staff representative bodies may help to communicate guidance to employees and provide a route for them to raise questions or concerns;
  • where employees and contractors are required to complete questionnaires on recent travel and health information, third parties should also complete these before entering the premises. Employers must ensure any questionnaires are compliant with data protection legislation;
  • consider whether any employees can work from home. If they can, the employer should satisfy itself that it is a safe place of work. The HSA has issued guidance for employers to understand their duties in relation to home workers.

As the easing-in period continues, larger construction projects are staggering the number of workers on site. From the reopening date a site previously with 70 workers may start back with just 40 to ensure physical distancing of 2m between people gradually building up to 50 then 60 etc. 

We understand the sector is chomping at the bit to get going again as so many projects will need to be finished, timelines have changed which has a major knock-on effect, and costs are still to be calculated. But despite the desire to get back into full swing the construction sector is putting safety first. The good news is that Ireland is picking itself up and seems to be doing it in a controlled, sensible and well-managed manner. 

If it becomes necessary to close the premises, official advice should be followed and a cooperative approach adopted. Site owners should bear in mind that health and safety inspectors have powers to prohibit access to premises.

If you need more advice or insight into what you can do as an employer Speak to the team at Sherlock Recruitment, 01 4568438,


Sherlock Helps Irish Contractors Grow

Are you a small to medium-sized contractor having trouble securing public sector construction contracts?

In a recent article Tom Parlon, CIF Director General was quoted saying “SME businesses account for 99% of businesses, yet smaller companies deliver less than one-third of public sector projects. The current value of the public sector contract market is somewhere in the region of €12 billion – and it is vital for the growth of many SMEs that they have an understanding of how best to tender for these vital contracts.”

The majority of small to medium construction companies don’t compete for government tenders because they mostly feel excluded from the process due to the stringent financial requirements that are demanded of them. This only increases further in rural areas where businesses think that the playing field is weighted against local building contractors competing for the larger tenders.

One of the critical challenges Parlon mentions for smaller companies is the continuous battle to attract and retain skilled workers. Delayed, inefficient or problematic recruitment, causes slowing of productivity ultimately impacting profitability. The construction sector is labour-intensive and highly competitive. With declining numbers of new graduates in construction-related courses competition for a quality, workforce is increasing; this is where a lot of contractors use Sherlock Recruitment. The reality for smaller businesses having the internal manpower to manage the full recruitment process from advertising, interviewing, reference checking, vetting and the management of large new teams is simply unrealistic. Sherlock Recruitment can step in and take all that pressure off a company. Sherlock provides the full 360 delivery of quality construction staff.

What this means is that Sherlock handles the entire recruitment process and payroll management of your teams for the duration of your project. This is also a service that can be offered for seasonal work surges in your organisation. When your staffing is outsourced, you can plan and budget accordingly for the project and are not delayed or thrown off track with unexpected staffing problems at crucial junctions in a project. Sherlock reduces the time and risk involved in staffing construction projects to a single weekly invoice. Allowing the contractor to manage and deliver the work required.

Being a national company with a focused database of over 40000 highly skilled tradesmen and operatives, Sherlock is uniquely positioned to deliver your staffing requirements. The company has individual departments that specialise in electrical, mechanical and construction staff sourcing, recruitment and management, which means that Sherlock understands your business needs and can streamline the process as much as possible, making those larger projects attainable and opening the door to your company’s expansion.

Sherlock is often asked to provide staff or tradesmen in critical work periods on a site, typically where a company doesn’t have the time and infrastructure hire and permanently retain a full team of qualified tradesmen. Recently we were asked to provide over 40 qualified electricians and mates for a rural site near Waterford. This was for a set five-month period to install all the electrical works on a very large factory extension. The administration involved in recruiting this volume of staff handling the advertising, sourcing, interviewing, vetting and ultimately, payroll management, was just not viable for the contractor. Sherlock was able to provide a steady supply of highly skilled tradespeople on a phased and manageable timeline through the project’s life cycle. This allowed the foremen to successfully manage the teams on the ground with a phased increase in team numbers and the project manager was able to deliver the project within budget and on time. Everyone working onsite gained invaluable experience and after five months were successfully moved to other sites after.

This kind of forward-thinking agile approach to construction management means that securing and delivering on those public sector contracts is much more attainable for Sherlock’s clients as Sherlock works across three primary sectors with the industry, construction, electrical and mechanical. We are uniquely positioned to plan and facilitate your full staffing requirements.


If the sector is going to deliver the infrastructure and housing requirements outside the greater Dublin area, we need to look at leaning on those who have the right expertise and can keep your business on track.


By using the services of specialised companies such as Sherlock, as an SME you are offered a fair chance to attain the larger public sector tenders and have a greater chance to really grow your business in line with your ambitions. If you want to find out how Sherlock can assist you in streamlining your staffing and managing your manpower, don’t hesitate to contact us.

General Inquiries:                  01 456 8438

Construction Danny:               087 342 5402

Mechanical: Elaine:                087 383 8473

Electrical: David:                     087 273 7312



Tackling Construction Staff Shortages the Sherlock Way

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The CSO’s Latest Report Highlights New Challenges

This week the Central Statistics Office released together with the figures from the latest Labour Force Survey which highlighted how the Irish economy continues to boom. These reports showed a record 2.3 million people were employed in the Irish economy in the second quarter of 2019. What this means is that it was the 28th consecutive quarter of annual employment growth since 2012, reflecting a remarkable turnaround since the low point of the crash.

As encouraging as these figures are being almost at full working status poses a real challenge for people who are desperately looking to hire/ recruit, especially as the building has started to increase again this quarter. The challenge this poses for recruiters, Site Managers, HR Managers is to source candidates who are available. Where are they sourcing the staff?

Sherlock is a leading supplier of quality staff and faces this challenge on a daily basis. We are also now recruiting for a huge increase in demand and pipeline of business coming up into 2020. We have clients with requirements for some major sites in Leixlip, Dundalk and Central Dublin and will have to be ahead of the game to source and find the top quality candidates for our clients that they expect from us.

To ensure we have access to the greatest number of potential candidates, we use an omnichannel approach to sourcing. This is a modern strategy for challenging times, one that utilises social media and online sources to get in front of the right candidate at the right time.  Adding to this, we have also grown one of Ireland’s largest databases of vetted, qualified tradespeople in the country. This is a database who we communicate with daily and work with to help them develop their own pipeline of projects coming through. This means we know where they are going to be and when. We know which waves of tradespeople are busy completing their stage of a project and would be available for the next and work with them to roll over to the next site. This kind of insight and bespoke management of clients and candidates is what has positioned Sherlock as a leader in our field. The clients that we work with appreciate having access to this kind of information as they can plan their projects carefully to maximise their workforce and the agencies efficacy. Candidates love working with us because we take care of them and we can provide them with weekly information and consistent work that develops their jobs skill set and keeps them growing in their careers.

If you want to know more about how Sherlock can assist you to manage your staffing requirements on site don’t hesitate to call us on +353 1 45 68438 or email us:

The Changing Face of Ireland’s Construction Industry

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The Construction Industry’s Landscape is Changing Fast

As cranes spread across the skyline of every major city in the country and news of new large-scale developments emerge daily, one thing is certain – we are back building. And with this increased demand comes increased pressure to find talent for our sites. To its own detriment, the construction industry has notoriously been among the slowest to embrace change. The sector has had a reputation for exclusivity, ‘old-school’ approaches and rigid practices, which has proven to be a barrier for applicants from diverse backgrounds and a deterrent for many young people choosing careers in construction. Recently, we have seen the industry embrace a more diverse workforce, propelled by a high demand for talent and skilled labour. The pool from which we source talent becomes incredibly limited if we restrict our scope and in the current climate, we can’t afford to be exclusive of any good, quality workers.

The industry is working hard to entice new, talented workers onto sites and are making an effort to appeal to people from all backgrounds. Many major companies have identified this issue and have incorporated diversity initiatives into their corporate missions – to show that viable career options exist for everyone. Recruiting from outside the regular pool of candidates is the best option to alleviate the high demand that we are facing in the current Building Boom, and it’s proven to be a more successful choice than anyone would have thought. A recent article on outlines the success that’s come from hiring women and older candidates to fill machine operative roles. It’s a solution that has helped to ease demand while bringing a diverse group of people with new and different insights and experiences to our sites.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) launched their #BuildingEquality campaign in 2018 with the aim of debunking the commonly held belief that the industry is ‘just for boys.’ The female presence in the Irish construction industry has become more prominent in recent years, however, women still only count for 6% of the industry’s workforce. We’ve seen an influx in female applicants for roles, from dumper drivers to storewomen, so we predict this figure is only going to grow.

This industry is undergoing extreme growth and the face of construction in Ireland is diversifying and changing fast. Sherlock Recruitment are highly aware of the trends occurring in the sector and the increasing need for skilled talent. We are known for never compromising on the quality of staff, our extensive database of qualified tradespeople and finding the most suitable candidates for every role. With Sherlock Recruitment, your sites will always be a safe and diverse place for your workforce.

Quality Staff Keep Your Site Safe

Quality Workforce

Summer is here and there is nothing like a spell of beautiful weather and a long stretch in the evenings to entice job seekers onto construction sites in the sunshine. The Irish construction industry is currently spending well over €400 000 000 a week; this is serious money. There are several large-scale projects going on, with major machinery, lots of manpower, resources and equipment, all increasing your risk exposure should anything go wrong. 90% of incidents on construction sites are caused by human error, so making sure you have the best possible workforce is crucial to the security of your site. Manpower is getting harder and harder to find as Ireland has reached its highest levels of employment in history, according to the CSO. How are your teams doing with recruiting the best possible staff for your projects?

With the potential horror stories that come from having unqualified or ill-equipped staff on site not having the right people in place is just not worth the risk. Sherlock Recruitment understands this risk more than most. We are one of the leading employers of M&E and construction operatives in the country and deal first-hand with the same challenges many of our clients face as well; how do we manage this risk to our own company and our clients?

First, we begin with one of the most effective ways to avoid this risk – an incredibly stringent screening process. At Sherlock, we double check all our candidate’s qualifications, certifications and health and safety validations. Once registered with us, we track and manage their Health and Safety certifications to make sure everyone stays up to date and within the Health & Safety parameters. Sherlock also takes the time to call and check references of each candidate regardless. This is a vital part of the screening process and makes sure candidates are a contributing and valuable member of the workforce, an employee that we can proudly put onsite or as a candidate for permanent positions. Moreover, if the position is a temporary role, we will keep the candidate on our books for the duration of the project, limiting our client’s exposure to any potential risk.

Having been in business for over five years, we’ve been privileged enough to have worked on some of the biggest construction sites, including datacentres and major industrial builds in Cork, Kilkenny, Leinster and Connaught. We are known for never compromising on the quality of staff or shortcutting on the recruitment process, for having an extensive database of qualified tradesmen and for protecting our clients as much as possible.

Working with an organisation like Sherlock and letting us shoulder the risk is your best bet in safeguarding your own company, building site and workforce.

Sherlock Recruitment: 01 4568438  

Rates Increase for 2019

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Some of the biggest news to hit the construction industry in Ireland in the last week has got to be the pending rate increase

Sherlock recruitment has been keeping a close eye on the progression of the Union’s bid for an increase over the past few months and have written previously on the topic. It is now official, and Minister of State Pat Breen has approved two recommendations from the Labour Court for new minimum pay rates.

The last sector-wide pay increase for construction workers was implemented in October 2017. The latest increase of basic hourly rates of pay will apply from October 1st 2019 and last through to September 30th 2020.

The following basic hourly rates of pay will apply in the sector from 1st October 2019 to 30th September 2020:

Craftsperson’s €19.44 per hour Bricklayers/Stone Layers; Carpenters and Joiners; Floor Layers; Glaziers; Painters; Plasterers; Stone Cutters; Wood Machinists; Slaters and Tilers.

Category A Worker €18.86 per hour Scaffolders who hold an Advanced Scaffolding Card and who have four years’ experience; Banks operatives, Steel Fixers; Crane Drivers and Heavy Machine Operators.

Category B Worker €17.50 per hour Skilled General Operatives who have worked in the sector for more than 2 years.

New Entrant Operative Workers €14.14 per hour To apply for 2 years to new entrant operative workers over the age of 18 years and entering the sector for the first time.

Apprenticeship and other craftsmen rates will change as such:

Apprentice Year 1 33.3% of Craft rate
Apprentice Year 2 50% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 3 75% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 4 90% of Craft Rate

Craftsperson €19.96 per hour Bricklayers/Stone Layers; Carpenters and Joiners; Floor Layers; Glaziers; Painters; Plasterers; Stone Cutters; Wood Machinists; Slaters and Tilers.

Category A Worker €19.37 per hour Scaffolders who hold an Advanced Scaffolding Card and who have four years’ experience; Banks operatives, Steel Fixers; Crane Drivers and Heavy Machine Operators.

Category B Worker €17.97 per hour Skilled General Operatives who have worked in the sector for more than 2 years.

New entrant operative workers €14.52 To apply for 2 years to new entrant operative workers over the age of 18 years and entering the sector for the first time.

The following basic hourly rates of pay will apply to apprentices employed in the sector from 1st October 2020.

Apprentice Year 1 33.3% of Craft rate
Apprentice Year 2 50% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 3 75% of Craft Rate
Apprentice Year 4 90% of Craft Rate

Electrical Contracting Sector

The following hourly rates of pay shall apply to the indicated categories of an employee employed in the sector from 1st September 2019:

Category 1 (Newly qualified electricians employed in the sector) €23.49

Category 2 (qualified electricians employed in the sector with effect from the commencement of their 3rd year of employment after qualification as an electrician) €23.96

Category 3 (Electricians employed in the sector with effect from the commencement of their 6th year of employment after qualification as an electrician) €24.34

The following rates of pay shall apply to apprentices employed in the sector from 1st September 2019:

Apprentice Year 1
Apprentice Year 2
Apprentice Year 3
Apprentice Year 4

The recommendations also provide for unsocial hours payments and set terms for pension and sick pay schemes.

Minister Breen said, “The sectoral employment process is welcome in that it provides an independent assessment of pay rates that takes into account the views of all interested parties”.

In the case of the construction sector, the Labour Court recommendation followed on from an application by the Unions BATU, Connect, OPATSI, SIPTU and UNITE to the court to review the terms and conditions of workers in the construction sector.

The application in the electrical contracting sector was made by Connect, the Association of Electrical Contractors Ireland and the Electrical Contractors Association.

How will this impact on the current upward movement of the sector in Ireland? Given construction workers are already paid above the average rate compared to other blue-collar positions, a new (or varied) SEO and a pay increase for construction workers will no doubt put further pressure on employers in the industry and perhaps cause a construction slowdown. The positive is that with a rate increase and a higher earning potential many of the skilled labour that left during the recession we might return.  We have also seen a shift in hiring patterns of construction firms, and increased use of outsourced and temporary staff for specific requirements, to minimise the wage bill and HR costs to the project.

Having followed recent events in Ireland an agreement and solution to this matter between all stakeholders is infinitely more desirable for all parties to avoid industrial action and to maintain positive industrial relations throughout the sector. The increased cost of labour will undoubtedly make an impact across industry and ultimately through to the consumer.

Whatever the results Sherlock Recruitment supplies temporary and permanent staffing solutions specific to the construction industry and we will be here for you to guide and assist you with whatever your requirements might be. In addition to supplying staffing solutions, Sherlock also provides critical Health and Safety training for the industry.


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Hiring and managing millennials


Recruiting a new generation, millennials onsite

From what we hear about 60 to 70% of construction firms are having trouble filling current vacancies for qualified tradesmen while the demand for workers is continuously increasing throughout the country. Buildings continue going up despite the shortage of skilled labour in the construction industry. The deficit of manpower is rapidly heading toward critical status and will start slowing down some projects, especially in residential construction.

Many older and highly skilled workers moved out of construction or relocated entirely to places like Australia and New Zealand in search of greener pastures after the housing market collapsed and subsequent recession. Although the government is currently running a significant campaign to get these lost skills back, so they stay on track with Ireland’s 2040 development plans. It is inevitable that construction companies are going to need to hire from the (often criticised) millennial generation. The challenge is not only that most firms are recruiting from the same pool but also that millennials are notoriously fickle when it comes to choosing and staying with employers. The result is that firms end up in a bidding war trying to outdo each other with financial packages adding vans, laptops and an endless list of perks to attract and keep the workforce needed.

Sherlock Recruitment has been engaging with millennials for over five years, and so to help you we have put together our top two things millennials are looking for when accepting a job. This is the knowledge that we have attained through countless hours of one on one interviews with candidates, entering or are in the industry; this is what we found:

What do millennials want in a job?

  1. Team members 34 and under, crave a sense of accomplishment from all reports this is the strongest driver of workplace happiness amongst this generation, facilitating higher retention and work output.
  2. Millennials also tend to crave teamwork and collaboration. They want to know their work will be valued and that it has contributed to the company achieving its goals and their contribution actually add value toward completing the project.

So how can construction companies show they value their employees? Some ways to increase engagement is to give them opportunities to be more involved with supervisors and project managers so they can also contribute, providing ways for workers to learn the latest technology and equipment, offering them training opportunities (additional health & safety certifications) and the possibility to increase their value. Then convincing millennials that this career path will be stable and offers work-life balance and financial rewards. This is where Sherlock excels, and also removes the risk of a potentially fickle millennial, as we employ the candidate on your behalf and should they or you decide that it’s not a right fit, there is no risk or additional expense to you. We also run an entire training management programme, facilitating all the critical health and safety training, plus additional courses such as abrasive wheels, working at heights and many others.

Engaging with millennials

Don’t expect millennials to scour your company websites for jobs. Instead, you will need to reach out to them where they are. This is also were working with an agency like Sherlock creates tremendous value as one of Ireland’s leading suppliers of manpower and tradesmen to the construction industry we are well established with the highest quality candidates. We are a straight-talking vibrant company with a young and ambitious team which appeals to the millennial candidate, often being their first port of call when they are looking for open vacancies. We are well established in the institutions, clubs and media platforms where they congregate and have partnerships with trade schools and colleges around the country especially with typically hard to fill roles like groundworkers, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and many more. We have been involved in those programs by providing insight, mentoring and job opportunities for over five years now further.

If you are looking for quality tradesmen and manpower the fastest and simplest way to get access to them, would be to talk to a consultant in Sherlock recruitment.  The consultants then handle everything for you and make sure they stay engaged, involved and delivering throughout their contract.  Call them- 01 4568438,

Impact of labour costs on Irish construction


Labour Costs

We have been talking a lot recently about the boom and growth in the construction industry across Ireland. We have also looked at challenges and risks that come with this kind of rapid growth, the scarcity of skills in the sector being one of them, another trend we have seen at Sherlock is the spiralling cost of labour. Employers are experiencing higher and higher expectations to deliver an ever-increasing package across the board for the teams they have on site. Employee demands are increasing whether its higher rates of pay or adding lodge and travel and much more. Although to meet the demands the workforce is needed but more than often than not the budget or capacity to absorb this increase in cost just isn’t there.  These increased in demands only drives the cost of building higher ultimately impacting on the final cost of the build and the end of the line consumer.

The Construction Sector Group (CSG) recently released a report warning of the upward march of labour costs. According to the CSG this is the biggest threat to the growth of the sector. These warnings are contained in the first report of the CSG, which is a high-level assembly of construction industry stakeholders and senior State officials set up to support delivery of the Government’s Project 2040 plan. “A key concern is the risk of excessive cost inflation which may occur,” the report found.

At Sherlock, we have found that the cost of labour is increasing, and many clients are being pressured by their workforce to offer more and more to their workforce. This is where working with a company like Sherlock becomes hugely beneficial. As Sherlock directly employs the teams on behalf of our clients, we can shelter our clients from the majority of this kind of direct risk. Many of our clients negotiate a set fee in anticipation of starting while they are project planning, so they know exactly how much their staff will cost for the duration of the project will be.

The CSG went on to warn that costs in the construction sector are on an upward spiral across the board, with average hourly earnings in construction increasing by 3.7 per cent in the 12 months to the end of the third quarter last year. The highest level of inflation is in the non-residential sector, with the construction tender price index estimated to have increased by 7.4% in 2018.

The CIF is also preparing to oppose Unions representing the sector who are all rumoured to demand a 12% increase saying that any further increases will only drive the cost of housing up further and exacerbate the current housing crisis.

Having the stability and security of working with an organisation like Sherlock on your site is something worth considering especially if you have several projects on the horizon. If you want to know more about how Sherlock Recruitment & Training can help you keep your projects on track and budget give our team a call on 01 456 8438 or visit us online

Scarce Roles in Construction


With the Government committed to delivering 47,000 social housing units up to 2021, and with an anticipated population growth of one million people over the next 20 years, the Construction Industry Federation says that close to 120,000 construction workers are now required in the sector.

Across the construction sector companies have been hiring at a rate of approximately 1,000 additional employees a month since 2013. There is little to sign of a slowdown.

These various factors create a perfect storm meaning that construction companies across Ireland are looking to hire, now and in the years ahead. Sherlock recruitment has been at the front line of this challenge working with some of the biggest firms around the country. We have been supplying the industry with quality tradesmen and labourers for the last five years, and we are finding that there is a big shortage of skilled construction ready applicants. This creates opportunities for workers looking to change career, upskill or transfer to a new sector.

From our client’s feedback and our own direct experience and onsite knowledge we have identified several roles in the sector where finding quality, available candidates are becoming a real challenge.

  1. Surveying

Surveying covers a wide range of roles, from quantity surveyors who advise on the costs of developing buildings and infrastructure, to geomatics surveyors who map the built and natural environment to provide accurate spatial data for planning, development and conservation.

The period between 2014 and 2017 saw additional employment across surveying of 2,624 with anticipated need for an additional 3,739 surveying professionals between 2019 and 2021.

  1. Engineering

Engineering is another profession which encompasses a wide variety of specialisations. Civil engineers, who plan and design building structures and infrastructure, are most directly involved with the construction industry.

However, some engineering businesses are concerned about skills shortages. In particularly short supply are civil engineers, whose numbers have declined by 45% in the past five years.

  1. Technology

If you follow our blog at all, you would have seen an earlier post about how technology is transforming the way the industry works. 3D modelling augmented, and virtual reality, BIM(building information modelling) adoption and other disruptive technologies are changing how the industry operates.

People with knowledge of these technologies, like programmers and computer engineers, are highly valued in the sector and can command high salaries.

  1. Administration

As construction companies grow their administration needs will grow with them. Whether in HR, office management or IT support, companies value industry-specific experience.

The demand for workers in the sector means that, for many current job postings, prior experience in construction is not a requirement. Moving now to build experience could see workers well positioned to benefit from growth in the sector in the years ahead.