Less than a week after its UK chief executive David Barwell stepped down after 20 years with the firm, Aecom is to cut 500 jobs as a result of the impact of the coronavirus on the company’s business.
It is believed that the job cuts could amount to 7% of the consultancy’s 7,000 UK and Ireland staff including some from its flagship London headquarters.
In a statement, Aecom said: “Over the last months, the global pandemic has heavily impacted many of our clients and competitors, the industries in which we work, and our UK and Ireland business. As a result of this, we have taken the difficult decision to reshape our business to better meet the demands of our markets and help us continue to provide the best services for our clients. In support of this restructuring, we are beginning a consultation process across the region which may impact up to 500 roles.”
The departure of Barwell is said to be unconnected with the announcement of job losses and is clearly a sign of belt-tightening and refocusing by many large firms in the industry as they look to address a possible downturn in the market in a post-Covid environment. At least 7,000 construction jobs have been lost due to the pandemic, with firms like Atkins, Arup, Mace, Bam and Kier all announcing redundancies over recent weeks.
Just over a week ago, it was announced that more than 400 companies employing over 100,000 people had signed up to support the Construction Leadership Council’s Talent Retention Scheme. The government/industry partnership supports the redeployment of staff at risk of redundancy and also facilitates temporary loans of staff between companies.
With the government’s job retention scheme furlough payments winding down by October and firms having to contribute if they continue using the scheme from last month, the pressures are increasing on construction businesses who are still waiting for the government’s “build, build, build” infrastructure promises to feed through to the industry in the form of real projects.