Two major consultants were this week preparing to make significant job cuts, as the recession in construction showed no sign of letting up.
Halcrow confirmed plans to shed 269 of its 4,200 UK staff − a 6% cut − in response to an expected fall in workloads across its multidisciplinary business over the next two years.
Arup has also confirmed plans to make a further 100 redundancies, on top of the 400 announced in January.
Halcrow’s cuts will affect the firm’s water, power, transport, consulting, and corporate services divisions.
Halcrow is among the last of the major consultants to announce a major round of job cuts following announcements earlier in the year from Atkins, WSP and Mouchel.
Hard to explain
The water sector cuts reflect a wider consultants’ response to the current downturn in water spending. Other cuts are harder to explain. Halcrow recently won the Crossrail delivery partner contract.
It is thought the firm had been holding off cuts in the hope that it could keep teams together. “We can no longer sustain current staffing levels,” said Halcrow chief executive Peter Gammie.
“We have worked hard to minimise the effect of recession on Halcrow.”
Peter Gammie, Halcrow
“This difficult decision was not made lightly and…. we will make every possible effort to reduce the number of redundancies and assist where we can with people’s personal arrangements.
“It is extremely regrettable that we have had to go down this route. Since the early days of the global economic downturn, we have worked hard to minimise the effect of recession on Halcrow.
“As a business, we remain focused on our long-term well being and on our clients and on their day-to-day requirements for the delivery of their projects,” he said.
Two hundred and sixty nine staff have been placed on a 30-day consultation programme.
In a statement the firm said: “The engineering consultancy sector will continue to see reduced activity, or perhaps even a further deterioration, through 2010 and beyond.”
Tougher times for contractors
The latest news from Halcrow, on the back of other cuts in the consultancy sector signifies tougher times for contractors, who are further down the supply chain.
New data from the Civil Engineers Contractors Association (CECA) shows an accelerating decline in workloads in July compared to April, and a resulting plunge in tender prices. In April, every sector with the exception of rail showed a decline in workload, but these falls appeared to be levelling-off (NCE 21 May).
But CECA’s July survey shows that the rate of decline has increased again in all sectors including rail.
CECA national director Rosemary Beales said: “This survey confirms the widespread feeling that economic recovery is still a long way off.”
Who’s cutting whom
- Atkins 1,200 jobs
- Mott MacDonald no changes
- Arup 350 jobs
- WSP Group 1,000 jobs
- Mouchel 600 jobs, around two thirds of which are in the UAE
- Jacobs pay freeze
- Halcrow Group 267 jobs
- Scott Wilson 10% staff cuts
- Capita Symonds no changes