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Preparing for a new jobs boom

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With some skills and professions in short supply, rail contractors depend on experienced recruiters to complete their teams and ensure the successful delivery of projects

As staff shortages start to appear with the increase in work on the railway, specialist recruitment agency Matrax is becoming the name to call when contractors are looking to fill white-collar and technical vacancies.

Despite the slow start, it now seems that Network Rail’s Control Period 6 (CP6 – 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2024) workbank is starting to be turned into one-off and framework contracts.

As the principal contractors and their main subcontractors gear up to meet the demand, they are turning to recruitment and contingent-labour suppliers to make sure they have enough skilled staff available to meet those requirements.

Matrax is an established rail-specialist agency that works with high profile clients in the UK, delivering contract and permanent staffing solutions across all disciplines in the sector. Predominantly focussed on white collar engineering and technical recruitment, Matrax is a Sentinel approved agency that also provides trackside workers to projects all over the UK.

The staff at Matrax have a wealth of experience, having racked up over 40 years in the industry between them. This has resulted in the company making its mark – it won awards for Best Newcomer and Best Performing Supplier to Capita / Network Rail in 2019, across a wide variety of disciplines, including engineering, commercial, project control and project management.

“We try to establish a relationship that inspires confidence in the profiles we are presenting to our clients,” explained account manager Matt Roberts. “A reliable qualification process is paramount to providing a time-efficient service to everybody in the supply chain.”

Benefit of experience

Matt, himself, has 15 years’ experience in the sector. He emphasised that Matrax has built its reputation on providing a good experience for applicants and an ability to engage with candidates knowledgeably about the projects and disciplines they work within.

“We are thoughtful about the communication channels we use and the way candidates like to engage about new opportunities in today’s job market,” he said. “We also constantly adapt our approach to best suit the candidate or client we are working on behalf of.”

As well as the slow start to CP6 last year, the industry was further hit by uncertainties over Brexit, doubts about HS2 and the introduction of IR35 – the new off-payroll working rules from HM Revenue and Customs that can apply if a worker provides their services through an intermediary.

“We recognise IR35 has been a dominant feature of the year so far,” Matt continued, “but it’s a transition we have previously navigated with our public sector clients in 2018, so it’s not new to us. We can therefore offer candidates advice and clarity, whether it’s remaining compliant outside IR35 or making the change to an Umbrella PAYE contract and how that will affect their take-home pay.”

Local service, global reach

Because of this experience, and their personal approach, Matrax is now first choice for many companies that are looking for a trusted, knowledgeable and innovative recruitment partner. From a single permanent placement to managing high volume multi-site contract requirements, Matrax has the expertise and the passion to deliver a recruitment process as straightforward as possible, taking all the pressure away from their clients.

“Matrax was very efficient and provided an exceptional service. Matt, my Consultant, was friendly, approachable, helpful and understanding, he demonstrated professionalism and passion in his work. Throughout the whole process he supported me, called me to see how each stage of the interview went and was prompt in following up with any of my questions or concerns. I would highly recommend Matrax and will return to them in the future if the requirement arises.”


Based in Portishead, on the Severn Estuary close to Bristol, Matrax works throughout the UK and overseas. One of its specialities is providing rare skill-set candidates to projects in the UK, Europe and the USA.

“We operate within candidate-short markets and work closely with the best professionals in the industries we work within,” Matt clarified. “Our ethos is based on delivery and adding value to the clients and candidates we work with.

“To the rail industry, we offer bespoke, professional and fully comprehensive services to each and every client we work with. We adapt to our clients’ unique needs and understand that finding the right candidate isn’t just about matching the qualifications and experience, they need to fit into the culture and be fully committed to the success of the project and the people they are working with.

“As a specialist, we attract and retain the very best people in the sector and, as a result, can provide quality personnel at short notice for both contract and permanent roles. Our candidate database stretches the globe and is continuously updated to ensure speedy access to available staff.”