, , ,

Women in Construction

Monday March 8th marked international women’s day. As the construction industry is a predominately male industry, we wanted to highlight the importance females in the Irish construction industry. Belinda O’Brien has worked for Sherlock Recruitment and is a passionate electrician who has worked in the construction industry for the past 14 years. We reached out to Belinda to talk to her about her experience as a woman in the industry. “I’m so fortunate to have found my passion in life and enjoy what I do. I have great variety in my job from the tasks to meeting new people and different locations. We need to encourage more women to take up apprenticeships. More than ever now, especially with the lack of apprentices in the trades, we need you.”

(Pictured above: Belinda O’Brien)

Studies have shown that women count less than 10% of the workforce is made up of women and just 1% of the workers on building sites. 70% of the construction companies in Ireland have recognized the need for more women in the industry. Last year the Construction Industry Federation launched a campaign to try and increase the presence of women on site. Ireland is currently battling a housing crisis and having more women decide to undertake a career in Communications Director with the CIF, Shane Dempsey admits that it is vital to find a way to do so, he says, “We really have a journey to travel to build equality in the construction industry and it’s imperative we do because we’ll need an additional 100,000 workers over the next three to four years to deliver on the commitments in the Governments housing strategy and in its infrastructure strategy. We need to be recruiting females and males into the industry, so we have to challenge a number of stereotypes.”

Hopefully Belinda’s story and international women’s day will have encouraged some women to pursue a career in construction industry.

Our pledge to be Carbon Neutral in 2021

Sherlock Recruitment – Our quest to be Carbon Neutral

As a socially and environmentally responsible business Sherlock Recruitment has made a pledge to become carbon neutral in 2021. This means that we as a company are conscious of any negative impacts we may have on the environment. Ireland is falling significantly behind target on commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement. According to the 2019 Climate Change Performance Index, Ireland is the worst performer in Europe and among the worst performers globally. Carbon emissions are dangerous in that they threaten the livelihood of our planet, animals, humans, and ultimately, life as we know it. Sherlock want to do their part to help combat this crisis and significantly reduce our carbon emissions in any way we can.

Our efforts in becoming carbon neutral as a business:

  • All stationary/supplies/cleaning materials made from eco-friendly materials.
  • Paperless modes of communication
  • Hybrid company vehicles
  • energy supplied from a renewable source, planned installation of solar panels in Q2 of 2021
  • A rated triple glazed windows.
  • motion censored LED lighting in the office
  • carpooling/use of public transport on necessary business trips
  • reusable utensils i.e. reusable company water bottles
  • Insulated plaster boarding throughout our offices
  • Insulated Ceilings
  • Boiler upgrade and state of the art heating system

In our office space, we do our utmost to reduce our carbon footprint, reuse anything that we can and recycle all materials. We encourage our staff to keep up these practices at home especially since many of our staff to work remotely currently due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Small impacts individually make a large impact overall. 2021 sees us become carbon neutral, could 2022 see us become carbon negative?

A 2020 Round-Up

Sherlock Recruitment – A 2020 Round Up

2020… where do we begin? As this year draws to a close, I think it is safe to say that most people are ready for this year to be over. I don’t think anybody could have predicted the year we’ve had and hope to never experience again! This said I think it is important to reflect on the good points and successes of the year because although it is easy to let the bad drown out all the good there has been plenty of reasons to look back on 2020 with pride in our business.

It goes without saying that we as a business have faced many challenges in 2020 due to the pandemic. We like many others have had periods of closure, reopening and uncertainty but we have come out stronger and more resilient each time. We as a team have shown incredible strength and feel that 2020 has shown us that we as a team are capable of any challenge we may face.

Sherlock Highlights 2020

  • Getting our employees back to work was definitely one of, if not the biggest successes for Sherlock Recruitment this year. During lockdown only essential sites were allowed to remain open and so we were operating with a skeleton crew. By the beginning of July we began to get a handle on things and have since continued to grow and are now operating at about 70/75% capacity which we believe is something to be incredibly proud of.
  • Sherlock HQ has undergone a makeover in 2020 with the installation of new windows, desks and painting and decorating works. A new office space has been something enjoyed by all employees on their return to the office after lockdown.
  • The introduction of some great new team members has been a huge highlight in 2020 as they are one of the reasons that Sherlock has managed to successfully come out the other side of this pandemic. Our team is stronger and more resilient than ever.
  • The introduction of some new software in our offices such as led to processes being easier, quicker and automated which saves time and money for the business. Anything that saves time and money is a major success in any business!
  • Expanding our client base despite these uncertain times is another huge win for Sherlock in 2020. We continue to supply staff to some of the biggest names in the construction industry and have great relationships with our clients. We have unique position to provide unprecedented market knowledge and insight which enables us to provide a valuable and quality recruitment service. We are a reputable and trusted agency in the construction industry which is why our client base continues to grow.


What does 2021 looks like for us?

2021 is going to be a big year for Sherlock Recruitment and we’ve many projects already in the pipeline.

  • Sherlock Recruitment plans to go international! We are in the process of securing projects in Europe beginning in 2021 and will be sending some of our employees abroad.
  • Sherlock Recruitment is going green: in 2021 we are making a commitment to be completely carbon neutral.
  • Projected growth: We as a business are going from strength to strength and are anticipating that we are going to grow by 50% over the coming year.
  • Service expansion: Sherlock is expending across the group with the introduction of new services available to our clients in the new year.
  • ISO-9001: Sherlock Recruitment is in the process of becoming ISO-9001 certified meaning we will be the first construction industry recruitment firm in Ireland to have this prestigious certification.

Despite all obstacles thrown our way we have had a strong and successful 2020 and look forward to a bigger and better 2021!

Advice to contractors when using agencies

Advice to contractors when dealing with agencies

As one of Ireland’s leading workforce solutions specializing in the recruitment of construction staff for the last 7 years, the employees of Sherlock recruitment feel that we are in a position to offer advice to contractors who work with agencies such as ourselves or others in our sector. This piece aims to highlight some key areas where both contactors and agencies can work together in order to get the most out of each other and have a good working relationship.


The biggest and most important thing on any job is how agency staff are integrated with the company’s own staff, how they are viewed and how they are communicated with. Too often on jobs we see that people employed through an agency are treated as less equally than a company’s directly employed people and are frequently excluded. “The agency lad” and “The hired in labour” are two of many of the terms that employees have regularly experienced on site. We have seen examples of separate lunch tables in canteens for agency vs directly employed staff. A lack of inclusions can lead to lack of motivation and morale for employees which in turn can lead to a decrease in production levels on site, ultimately resulting in increased project costs for the contractor. Studies have shown that people who feel like they belong in the workplace are 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their full potential, so it is in the best interest of all parties to ensure proper integration among all staff.

Specifications/Realistic Expectations

At times contactors will come to agencies and request a role of a very broad trade to be filled i.e. “I need a spark”. No specifics have been given and so often a person turns up who cannot carry out a specific task that could have been detailed in advance i.e. fault finding etc. Contactors need to ensure that they include any specific skills or experience necessary for the job to avoid disappointment. Like anything when dealing with people, a 100% success rate is never guaranteed so there needs to be some sort of failure rate expected. It could be for a number of reasons i.e. location, culture, type of work, personality clashes etc. The role failure may be nobody’s fault in particular, just circumstance. In Sherlock we pride ourselves on having the highest success rates in the industry however we are human and so are our staff so a small failure rate should be expected particularly when dealing with large volumes of staff.

Opportunities for progression

What is in it for the candidate? Engaging a candidate on a 2 week contract with zero prospect of further employment/advancement is not going to be motivating work for the candidate. Why would a contractor expect the same level of commitment from a permanent staff member who knows that if they perform well there is a chance of long term work vs a 2 week contract with no chance of further employment? Our aim is always to retain our staff and strive for greater opportunities for our employees. We have typically found that the fail rate of supplied personnel reduces massively in an event where the candidate supplied can see opportunity for longer term secure work with the contractor. The vast majority of bad experiences contactor’s have with recruitment agencies are on these short term contracts. No show rates and staff retention issues are much higher on shorter term contracts while a lack of motivation can often result in reduced out put and increases in employment issues such as absentee rates etc. In short, a contractor who sources staff through agencies on short term contracts should not expect the same return/output as they would expect from their long-term, full time employees. As one of the leading staffing agencies in Ireland we are often in a position to offer a continuity of work to our employees. However, there is no substitute to that of a contractor declaring a long term commitment to a staff member in an event where their performance is where it needs to be.

General advice

The above information has been constructed through our years of knowledge in the construction industry and our want for the most beneficial relationships between ourselves and our clients. If you are one of our current/potential clients please contact your account manager who will be more than happy to help you discuss the ways you can achieve the best return from an agency staffing service like ourselves.

Why is the Construction Industry deemed essential during level 5 restrictions?

Why is the Construction Industry deemed essential during level 5 restrictions?

On Monday October 19th Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the Irish public to announce that as of midnight Wednesday October 21st Ireland would be entering level 5 restrictions for a period of 6 weeks until December 1st. This is very similar to the level of restrictions seen in Ireland in March and April with the notable exception being schools and colleges remaining open with strict protective measures in place. The main measures introduced were the closure of all non-essential retail, a ban on all household visits, takeaway only from restaurants, work from home unless presence in the workplace is essential, 25% public transport capacity and 5km travel limit from the home. These restrictions were met with mixed views from the Irish public with some believing they are necessary due to the high incidence of community transmission resulting in high COVID numbers and others believing there is “a clear emphasis on lives rather than livelihoods,” with this second lockdown leaving many businesses in serious jeopardy. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD said that the Level 5 restrictions will cost the Irish Exchequer €1.5bn and will also cost some 150,000 jobs. The PUP scheme previously in place is now being restored at an amount of €350 for all those who earn €400 or more a week.

Industry Acknowledgement

The CIF and all in the construction industry welcomed the government’s decision that construction be deemed essential during the period of these level 5 restrictions. This said, with the privilege of being allowed to continue to operate there is a greater responsibility required from the industry with members being asked to redouble their efforts to combat COVID-19. It is important to highlight the success of the construction industry to date with regard to the efforts and measures put in place to minimize the risks of COVID-19 onsite. Each employee must complete the CIF COVID induction training before going onsite, 2 meter distancing markers are located on site, there are increased number of hand washing stations, and dedicated COVID-19 compliance officers are employed on site to ensure guidelines are being followed. Remaining open during level five is testament to the incredible efforts over the past five months in keeping the incidence of Covid-19 to a minimum on construction sites.


Why is the construction industry deemed essential?

The construction industry has largely been referred to as the backbone of the Irish economy. Studies carried out by the CIF have found that every €1 invested in construction will yield more in terms of economic and social benefit than any other sector. Closing this industry would have major societal, health and financial impacts on the nation. Though the lockdown is proposed to last 6 weeks the impacts of shutting down and reopening would have actually made that timeframe longer. Due to the fact it would have been due to reopen in December some sites would have held off until the new year to reopen resulting in up to 10 weeks of delays.

Societal Impacts

Ireland is currently battling a homelessness and housing crisis and if construction came to halt there would be a severe impact on social housing therefore worsening this crisis. There are currently 35 social housing projects across 14 counties and a new analysis of the home building market carried out by EY-DKM Economic Advisory Services on behalf of the Irish Home Builders Association (IHBA) estimates that up to 36,000 new homes per annum will be needed to meet demand over the next two decades. In 2019 builders completed 21,500 new homes, a number well below what is said to be needed to combat the crisis. As we specialize in the supply of trades and labour to the construction industry, we recognize from our day to day work that there is in fact a skills shortage in this industry which ads further to this crisis. Lower than necessary housing construction rates and labour supply shortages paired with what would have been a second halt to the industry this year had construction not been deemed an essential industry would have had detrimental impacts to society. A reduction in the development of new homes would also wreak havoc on housing prices. An increase in demand and a decrease in supply would inevitably lead to large inflation on the price of houses. 

If Ireland shut down the construction industry for a second time it would result in a negative impact on any pipelined projects. It may result in Ireland not looking like the most desirable place to have your company. Maintaining Ireland’s image of a desirable place to do business is crucial especially as Ireland currently attracts many MNE’s who provide thousands of jobs and contribute massively to GDP annually.

Health Impacts

Further delays in the construction of the Healthcare projects such as the National Children’s Hospital would cause delays in the ability of the Irish healthcare system to provide appropriate healthcare for our citizens in the years to come. Delays in the construction of Biopharmaceutical sites would have an adverse impact on the battle against COVID-19 globally as many of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies being headquartered in Ireland and are currently in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Financial Impacts

From a financial/employment perspective the decision to deem the construction industry essential has meant that for now the jobs of 147,000 construction workers and around 50,000 others involved in the supply chain will remain secure. These workers are all contributing to the economy by way of taxes on their wages and helping rebuild the Irish economy. In 2019 alone €3.84bn in taxes was generated by the construction industry. A potential 10 week shut down of the industry could have lead to a loss in tax revenue of circa €740m with an additional €700m being paid out in pandemic unemployment payments during this period. Construction being deemed essential now leaves the state with additional spending power which has positive knock on effects on the state and Irish economy as a whole.

Psychological Impacts

The announcement of this 6 week lockdown has coincided with CIF Construction Safety Week with Monday’s theme being mental health, welfare and wellbeing. This pandemic has had a severe impact on everyone’s mental health and those in the construction industry are no exception. In today’s world this topic is now more important than ever. Mental Health within the construction industry has been referred to as a “silent crisis” and is believed to have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Almost a quarter of construction companies report employees being absent due to mental health reasons. Continuing to provide employment and a source of income for people of this industry will help people mentally as studies show that unemployment does make people unhappy. It is widely acknowledged that unemployment results in a loss of income as well as declining job-related skills. Low mood, anxiety, poor cognitive performance and loss of confidence are just some of the effects of unemployment. Studies have found that the unemployed have lower levels of well-being than the general population and than those in work.

We speak for many when we say that we feel fortunate to be in the construction industry and to be able to continue to operate through these level 5 restrictions and retain our jobs at a time of great uncertainty in the economy.

Why Sherlock Recruitment is not your typical recruitment agency

Recruitment agencies get some pretty negative press at times. A recruitment agency by definition is “a business that is paid to find suitable workers for other companies and organizations”, so why is a business so simple prone to such negativity? Below are some of the key myths about recruitment agencies and some reasons as to why Sherlock is everything but your typical recruitment agency.

“Recruitment agencies just hurl CVs at you until one happens to be good”

At Sherlock this is definitely not true. We ensure to speak to clients first and gain a first-hand knowledge of what type of employee they are looking for. We ask a number of targeted questions to ensure that when we do speak to potential candidates, we are able to gain a specific insight into the candidate’s employment history. We back this up further through completing reference checks. Although character references are important, we also ensure to ask the referee questions tailored against the information we garnered from the client.

Although we do get a lot of CV’s into our inbox, it is about being quick and efficient in speaking to and screening the potential candidates. This takes a lot of time to ensure that we are getting the best possible candidates. A lot of the behind the scenes work does go unnoticed.

The recruitment process is fully transparent, any candidate related communication is recorded and stored and can be audited at any time so if there are ever any queries there is a full record of all communications. At Sherlock we would prefer to send no one to a client than send someone not suitable. We ensure we send candidates who fit the brief given to us by our clients.

“They do not know anything about the jobs they’re recruiting for”

Again, not true! As outlined above we ensure to target our clients focusing only on those within our sphere of competency, so we know what we are talking about. We differ from our competitors as we do not chance our arm at any job role across multiple industries. We specialize and cater to a niche sector which is the construction industry and have worked solely in this industry for the last 7 years. Our business consists of three primary recruitment desks, the mechanical, electrical and construction desks. Each desk is equipped with an account manager and recruiter dedicated to each sub section. We are in a unique position to provide unprecedented market knowledge and insight which enables us to provide a valuable and quality recruitment service.

“Recruiters take a fat commission check for doing a bit of admin work”

As the ultimate employer of the candidate supply to clients in the construction industry our hourly charge is inclusive of much more than the candidate pay and our margins. If there is a charge of €30 and the candidates pay is €20 the full €10 gap between the pay and charge rate does not go to Sherlock as is often believed. Holidays, bank holidays, PAYE and pension are some of the other costs included in our rates.

In addition to providing a full 360 recruitment service we also provide employee vetting, outsourced payroll management and health and safety upskilling and training. We are the key point of communication between candidate and client. We do not sit as a passenger on the recruitment journey, we add value to our clients through our comprehensive recruitment process. When a client invests in Sherlock recruitment you invest in a process as close to seamless as possible. The recruitment process we are selling reduces the fail rate of employment in a client’s business. We have Ireland’s most extensive database of skilled tradesmen and 93% success rate among our clients.

Having placed over 4000 candidates across a variety of construction sectors, managing payroll administration for over 250 clients and offering ancillary HR services to a host of other clients there is no challenge too big for our team here in Sherlock Recruitment.

Sherlock’s response to COVID-19


Sherlock’s Response to COVID-19

The COVID- 19 Pandemic has had a profound impact on the Irish Construction and Engineering industry both from an economic and regulatory perspective with many projects delayed or cancelled. As well as this, there have been many changes to regulations within the industry especially on site. Here at Sherlock, the health and safety of our employees has been of utmost importance throughout these uncertain times

Friday March 27th saw the Irish Taoiseach at the time, Leo Varadkar order Ireland into its first lockdown. An email was sent to members of the CIF on Saturday March 28th telling them to begin shut down of all non-essential sites and projects immediately unless the site was directly related to combatting COVID-19.

The majority of the workforce were sent home, many temporarily laid off unsure of when and if they would return to work and placed on the Emergency COVID-19 Pandemic unemployment payment of €350 a week and all money and payments frozen on projects. This saw many of the construction/trades & labour force sent home and put on this emergency payment, including employees in Sherlock. This said there were a portion of our staff bravely working on essential sites across the country on waste management, food processing and student accommodation jobs.

The Construction/Engineering sector was one of the first big industries to reopen on May 18th during phase 1 giving it a head start compared to many sectors in Ireland who had to wait until later phases to reopen. This was great news for everyone here at Sherlock. The CIF released a “Construction Sector C-19 Pandemic Standard Operating Procedures” document detailing all regulatory changes necessary to safely commence work in the Construction and Engineering Industry before phase 1 planned for May 18th. All of Sherlocks on site employees must now complete a mandatory CIF COVID-19 induction before entering a site.

Of course, not all construction/engineering sector work is carried out onsite and so there were regulatory changes to the office side of this industry also. We have seen the government continue to ask that people work from home where possible. Strict adherence to social distancing and a mandatory 2-meter rule must be in place in office spaces. Staggered breaks and “days in/days home” schedules are being seen to limit the interaction of people in the workplace. Unless it is “absolutely necessary”, face to face meetings are not allowed to take place and where possible should be conducted virtually. During our working from home phase we, like many others used the platform “Zoom” to stay in touch.

Our remote meetings via Zoom:

Initially all of our office staff worked from home which was challenging but we as a team worked together and did our best like we always do. Our return to the office was nothing like we left it back in March. We work in accordance with industry/government advice and so only 2 people are allowed in the kitchen at the one time, face coverings are worn by staff, employees are all spaced 2 meters apart and staff work on a rotating office/remote schedule.

Thankfully we have over 6 years of successful business behind us which allowed us to prevail through these uncertain times. Our team is now more flexible, adaptable and stronger than we ever could have imagined compared to pre-COVID times. We are better able to tackle any obstacles that may come our way and are confident in the future of Sherlock Recruitment and the construction/engineering industry.

Raising Funds for Cúnamh Iveragh 


Raising Funds for Cúnamh Iveragh 


Damian Murphy. One of Sherlock’s recruiters decided at the beginning of June to start a small fundraiser for Cúnamh Iveragh


Cúnamh Iveragh is set in South West Kerry and it supports children and young adults with special intellectual needs. It is made up of parents and friends of these special people and grown through the years. It provides many facilities and supports which have made life easier for them and their families. Cúnamh’s primary aim is to keep these facilities in our local area as we feel that our children should have the choice of living locally if they so desire.

Cúnamh Iveragh lost out on massive funding in 2020 without the Ring of Kerry Cycle Race and as it stands they have nowhere to facilitate people over the age of 18 with intellectual disabilities in South Kerry. At present this group is in the process of fundraising for an extension to the existing facility. To date, they have raised €230,000 and require €450,000. 

For this fundraiser, Damian’s plan was to virtually walk from his house in Celbridge to his family home in Portmagee, Kerry (333km) during the month of June. 

Arron Sherlock and the team of Sherlock Recruitment, recognising how important this cause is to Damian and also how important the need is, wanted to help. Arron decided that Sherlock will contribute all the profits from all the Manual Handling Certifications booked through the month of June and these would go directly to Damian’s GoFundMe Campaign.  

Fast Forward a month and Sherlock Recruitment and training were able to donate over €1000 to the cause and Damian himself has raised over €6000 to contribute.  We are very proud to be a part of this fundraiser and always try to support the endeavors of our employees.  

If you want to make your own direct contribution to the cause or would like to follow Damian’s efforts here is the link to his GoFundMe Page:  




New High Court Ruling- SEO Wage Legislation Deemed  Unconstitutional- Sherlock Recruitment


New High Court Ruling- SEO Wage Legislation Deemed  Unconstitutional- Sherlock Recruitment 

This week saw the High Court rule on an existing SEO (Sectorlal employment Order). The SEO currently in place provides for set minimum pay and conditions for several workers primarily in the trades and labour sector.  The SEO fixes legally binding minimum rates of pay and employment conditions including a sick pay scheme and pension contributions for all employers in the sector – including those who had not been party to the negotiations. 

The challenge to the SEO was brought to the high courts by members of the National Electrical Contractors of Ireland (NECI) who represent small to medium-sized electrical firms across the country. They stated that the SEO breached their rights and was unconstitutionalThey had challenged both the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, and a 2019 Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for the electrical contracting sector made under the legislation.  

Their argument was that the employer and union bodies that negotiated the SEO were not “substantially representative” of the sector and raised issues about competitiveness and how the economic sector was defined. NECI stated that SEO will have implications for small and medium-sized electrical contractors, and the potential anti-competitive effect of fixing a minimum wage for electricians.   

Mr Justice Simons ruled “A decision to impose mandatory minimum terms and conditions of employment across an entire economic sector necessitates making difficult policy choices. This is because the consequences of making a sectoral employment order are so far-reaching, and the interests of the principal stakeholders, namely, the employers, workers and consumers; are not necessarily aligned. The fixing of high rates of renumeration might well be welcomed by workers, but may limit competition, and thus adversely affect consumers,” Going on to declare provisions of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 to be unconstitutional, thereby rendering the Sectoral Employment Orders invalid. 

The ruling means many particularly lower paid employees will only have a legal entitlement to the National Minimum Wage and basic statutory protections, rather than the  sectoral minimum rates and conditions established through the SEO. 

Arron Sherlock, of Sherlock recruitment, a leading supplier of trades and labour across the sector said This ruling comes at time of great turmoil already inflicted on the sector by the Covid Crisis . The judgment will have serious implications for tens of thousands of workers and businesses across the state the full ramifications of which we will only understand in the coming months.’  

This decision will be welcome for many employers in the electrical contracting sector given the extent of the employment terms prescribed in the SEO. However, a note of caution for employers in terms of the non application of the SEO as a result of the decision, as this may be the subject of an appeal. As such, we recommend employers to keep a close eye on developments and to take advice as may be necessary. 

Sherlock Recruitment is a leading force of outsourced staffing solutions to the electrical, mechanical and construction industry and will remain committed to support both employers and employees while these issues are ironed out by the courts and relevant representatives.  

If you have any questions or would like some advice or guidance on staffing matters, don’t hestitate to contact our offices  

Office – 01 4568438   




Sherlock Recruitment in the Press

As the Irish construction industry is facing a real challenge in staffing the number of building sites around the country, Sherlock Recruitment has been working tirelessly to source the highest quality tradesmen and construction operatives for the sector here is how we are leading the pack.