REWARDING RESULTS AND
A COMMON BET FOR DIFFERENT DYNAMICS
By the end of 2009, we hoped to see signs of recovery in the Construction sector due to major public works which were predicted for 2010. The sector had slowed down and consequently recruiting processes associated to it did as well. The labour market reacted to the crisis in the same way as most companies of the sector did: putting a stop on projects taking place, postponing decisions, and cutting down on the budget. Apart from the Renewable Energy sector, which has contradicted this tendency, almost all positions related to Construction, Automotive, Industry, and Engineering, were in less demand.
The uncertainty and delay of issues related to public works or major projects was prominent in 2010, and did not allow for the Construction sector to recover. On the other hand, the Automotive retail sector moved in a different direction, and in 2007 and 2008 sales figures were much higher than in 2009.
Industry, more specifically the Food Industry, was an interesting sector to observe as recruitment processes which had been postponed since 2009 were resumed. This sector does not depend on the national economic performance, but it benefited from exports and from the momentum that Distribution was experiencing, especially due to downsizing in the Restaurant business.
Generally speaking, and except for some of the more specialised roles in the Construction sector which are linked to more complex construction, most Engineering profiles were not given a significant salary raise. However, some top management positions, such as Industrial Directors, or Operations Directors, had their versatility compensated in terms of wages due to seniority, multiple management, leadership, and financial analysis skills.
The attribution of a variable component, as well as its amount, differed, depending on the sector. In the Automotive sector it is fairly common and pretty much accepted, as it is clearly a sales orientated sector. In the Industry sector, on target earnings have only recently been implemented in the form of annual bonuses. However, it is still regarded by some decision makers as suspicious. The inclusion of a variable component in the fixed salary is rare in the Construction sector.
Construction and Real Estate
The uncertainty related to public works, has caused the Construction and Real Estate markets to expand and to explore opportunities in Africa. Therefore, the following positions were in demand: Site Managers for Roads and Infrastructure, Maritime Site Managers, Officers, Surveying Managers, and Planning Engineers. However, commitment to emerging markets such as Angola did not always prove to be a wise investment. Some companies have experienced late payments, which is why they are now considering to slowdown activity in this country, thus looking for alternative markets.
In 2010, recruitment processes became international and number of opportunities in the expatriation market increased, placing importance on foreign languages, such as English, French, and more recently German. Furthermore, professionals with knowledge of IT programmes such as SAP or Primavera were highly valued because these skills are required to satisfy multinational contracts.
Moreover, many Engineering and Construction professionals decided to complement four or five years experience with advanced qualifications in Management and Marketing, studying MBAs and general Management courses. These young professionals began to orientate their careers in a different direction, beyond technical knowledge, in order to carry out versatile roles demanded by employers in an attempt to reduce costs in a more natural way.
As the market lacks professionals with experience in maritime construction, such as ports and marinas, these were especially difficult to find in 2010. As this is not an easy type of work to find in Portugal – it is important to note that there are only half a dozen companies operating in the area – it is highly difficult to manage to convince professionals to depend on this sector.
With regards to the Real Estate market, 2010 was a year for analysing and defining new strategies, given that 2008 and 2009 represented disinvestment on behalf of foreign countries, namely Anglo-Saxon countries.
This period served the purpose of identifying new targets abroad, redefining Marketing strategies, and tailoring the products to the internal market. Although the internal market is not a huge market, especially when it comes to Tourism related products, it is quite a dynamic market.
Furthermore, job offers in the second half of 2010 increased due to clarification of recruitment needs by the employers with regards to the profile, targets and strategies.
After two years of stagnation, and still lacking perspectives of growth, this sector concentrated its efforts on upgrading the company network. Besides enabling greater capacity and quality of response to a greater technological sophistication of vehicles, modernisation might be an asset for the market to enable it get back on its feet.
Dismissals encouraged the start up of small businesses by unemployed professionals. This initiative was mainly observed outside major metropolitan areas, where the provision of such a service is scarce, so there is less possibility for the small offices to be threatened by industry giants.
Even though there was a general decline in the amount of recruitment processes in the Automotive sector, the most solicited profiles in 2010 were equally distributed among the different areas of expertise. Technical and Post-Sales Management roles continue to be in demand, as well as Office Coordinators, and customer service roles, such as Sales Representatives and Customer Service Advisors. Over the past few years, recruitment processes have been conducted in a thorough manner, and many employers ask employees for academic qualifications to perform the role. As there is a surplus of professionals with university degrees, it is now rather easy to find people willing to take their chances on a career in sales, where the variable component is most attractive.
The difficulty lies in passing on information to candidates of certain job offers, because traditionally professionals who work this area do not consult the means of information available. Therefore, making them aware of market opportunities is a challenging task.
Middle Management roles have experienced recruitment limitations in 2008 and 2009, whereas 2010 has seen recovery for Middle and even Top Management positions. The increase in sales flows for Germany, England, France, China, and Spain resulted in production in the following sectors: Automotive, Metal-Mechanic, Mould, Polymers, Machines and Industrial Equipments. Profiles such as Production Supervisors, Process Engineering, Quality and Maintenance, were among the most required by employers, due to exports and to the increase of internal consumption in the Food Industry.
Although there is an increase in demand, reaching an average of 30% more than in previous years (especially when it comes to Automotive Components Industry), professionals who are committed to Project Engineering, Industrialisation, and Maintenance, are hard to locate.
The Distribution and Logistics sector did not change greatly compared to previous years. Companies continued to depend on qualified professionals in order to optimise processes and reduce costs. Therefore, the amount of staff hired decreased as a consequence of growth, and also because companies had internal promotion in mind.
The Purchasing sector needed professionals, both for General Purchases, and for more specialised areas, in order to develop global Procurement. Better buying equals increasing assets or resources avoiding costs. As a result, companies strive to improve their sourcing and purchasing processes.
With regards to workers in the logistics sector, we continue to see a tendency to strengthen the sales departments, investing in market quota whether it be land, maritime, air transport, or transport/freight management.
There was an hesitant recovery of global trades in 2010 and transport agents, associated with export or import, continue to require new talent in order to increase their revenue by obtaining more and better clients, with superior business turnover.
The Industry sector should experience growth in 2011, where the amount of exports and the demand of the internal market are maintained. As for the future of the Construction sector, it is still uncertain as it depends on Public Works, for example: renovation of school networks, TGV, and the new airport in Lisbon. The last two were still being considered when this analysis was carried out. The diversification in the market, especially Maghreb and South America, might be a viable solution for boosting this sector.
Salary packages, influenced by the lack of dynamism of the market and by the contingencies of the austerity plan, should remain the same. We may perhaps see the variable component reinforced in order to hold professionals accountable for their own performance.
2011 should be a year of ‘opportunities’ for those who have got the skills and courage to risk and contradict all expectations. There should be an obvious tendency to reduce consumption, which explains why companies and niches experiencing difficulties might be incorporated into other companies or groups of larger dimension. This applies to Transport, Construction, and Automotive sectors.
Nevertheless, exporting products should serve the purpose of industries, and employment levels should be the same or superior to 2009 and 2010, either by recruiting more qualified technical profiles to meet the demand of foreign markets, or by investing in sales profiles for the export market, a trend which occurred towards the end of 2009 and was present throughout 2010.
The same situation is predicted for the Construction sector, where, despite the stagnation of Public Works, the traditional external markets of major Constructors should show clear growth. The possibility of starting up or expanding activities abroad, integrated in groups, partnerships among national companies or even in Constructing companies in countries they will be investing in, will start to take shape.