INCREASING DEMAND FOR ON-DEMAND DIGITAL EXPERTS
BIM INSIGHTS: MAY 2020: INCREASING DEMAND FOR ON-DEMAND DIGITAL EXPERTS
c/o Johnson BIM
This month: a post COVID perspective in our state of the nation, why on-demand digital experts will be in demand and an update on BIM Salaries.
STATE OF THE NATION
No-one knows what is going to happen over the next few months but when No.10 announces our increasingly eagerly awaited exit strategy we will have a better idea of how quickly the construction industry will bounce back and which sectors will benefit the most from the public purse. Until then the best consensus we can get is from industry itself.
Mike Johnson has been asking the key decision makers with the leading players. This is a summary:
Most agree that global economic uncertainty will, inevitably, affect investment strategies and there will be a slowdown in the private sector. No-one can predict how long it will be before we see a return to 2019 figures and above. A lot depends on the discovery of a reliable vaccine. Hopefully, enough confidence is restored for something resembling a recovery in the private sector in 2022.
On the positive side, there is much anticipation (and lobbying) for significant investment in the construction industry as a major boost not just for UK economic recovery but the societal need too. We are hearing positive noises from No.10:
“Guidance from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet has been clear that construction is a vital element of the UK economy that will be critical in our recovery from this crisis”
Speaking at the Large Contractors Forum on the 22nd April, the Construction Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that he was:
“…looking to bring forward infrastructure projects to support the construction sector’s economic recovery, after the Covid-19 crisis.”
There is good evidence of infrastructure projects being at the core of successful economic recoveries around the world (see doom to boom article). Already we have seen China kick start over 10000 projects. It looks like the UK will follow. Nadhim Zahawi again:
“I’m talking to other departments to see what projects we can accelerate or bring forward because in terms of incentivising growth, infrastructure is going to be important and the Government’s commitment to infrastructure is going to be important”.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION?
Thought leaders are in two minds about digitalisation and BIM. The optimists (with cash reserves and healthy pipelines of work) are either expecting it to be business as usual or, in a few cases see this as an opportunity to accelerate transformation.
Hopefully, new government projects will favour the brave!
Unfortunately, the pessimists (most with zero cash reserves and hollow pipelines) see the need to get cash flowing quickly, fuelling the race to the lowest price and at best dumbing down digital if not eradicating BIM altogether. Unfortunately, for those fighting for survival, lessons from previous downturns may not be heeded.
The good news is that UK PLC is still promoting innovation. Although the £1.25bn ‘innovation’ funding recently announced does not single out construction, it does show positive intent and many see this as ideal timing to re-boot BIM and push harder for better outcomes – especially if UK PLC will be under the spotlight to prove the public purse is getting value for money.
AND WHAT ABOUT DIGITAL TALENT?
Companies are already tightening their belts – some even more so than they were already doing pre-COVID.
Tighter management of overheads = minimal appetite for non-project funded costs. So, most companies have furloughed at least 50% of their digital talent for the short term.
The optimists who see digital as centre stage to recovery and winning public sector work, envisage retaining the digital talent they have. The pessimists don’t and see a culling of non-operational BIM brains. The majority are in between and predict some thinning at the non-operational level.
All agree that any recruitment need in the foreseeable future (3 months at least, probably 6) will be operational and funded by budget already allocated in the project. But how will essential non-operational needs be delivered?
Although there is a declining need for full-time ‘overhead’ roles, I do think there will be a growth in demand for part-time expertise. You can’t totally remove the need for some of the overhead work – some essential input will need to be maintained. However, companies fighting for survival and in recovery will need to stem the blood loss – and pay less. This creates an exciting opportunity for consultancies – specialists who can deliver on a part-time basis – say 2 to 3 days a week for half the original cost – ideally bringing back previous full-time employees who understand the nuances of their business.
A more flexible, on-demand, freelance resource is a logical and likely solution.
ON-DEMAND DIGITAL EXPERTISE
Recognising this potential, we recently launched the help-a-start-up initiative to help the many BIM and digital specialists that are being made redundant….
If you’d like to find out more, please sign up here.
BIM SALARY TRACKER
It is no surprise to see such a big drop in the number of dbe centric jobs advertised and demand is unlikely to change for several months.
Click here for the latest on supply and demand, BIM salary trends and our conclusions.