Data and comments courtesy of JOHNSONBIM
DEMAND INCREASING – but not for everyone
Many employers have much leaner teams now. Without the resource to support BIM requirements on new projects, additional resource is needed. We saw this happening in the second half of 2020 with a steady demand for project-funded BIM Coordinators. With more project releases on the way in 2021, this demand will accelerate.
Unfortunately, as companies focus on minimising central overhead to protect the bottom line, the demand for non-project funded BIM specialists continues to decline. There are signs though that, as clients push the supply chain to deliver BIM better, the smarter companies that have not already got a digital strategy are realising they need one. They may not have the budget of the larger employers to pay £70k+ for a full-time Digital Leader but they can afford someone on a freelance basis to get an effective strategy developed and implement it on a part-time basis.
There is pent-up demand for BIM trainees as they are the logical long-term solution for successful businesses, especially when demand for scarce talent is high and salaries rising. However, with mentors under pressure due to leaner teams and extra workload, they do not have the time to invest in supporting trainees.
SUPPLY DECREASING – in some areas
The diminishing supply of in-demand talent is becoming a serious challenge. It has been a problem for a few years but worsened by the pandemic.
With the focus on leaner teams and saving costs, the pandemic has further slowed the already poor flow of trainees.
Despite redundancies elsewhere, the majority of those funded by projects were retained. As workload has gradually increased, the demand for more BIM Coordinators and BIM Managers has continued steadily and there are less available than at the beginning of 2020.
We are also seeing the scope for career development broaden with exciting, well paid opportunities coming up with management consultancies advising on best practice BIM, technology vendors looking for specialised knowledge, information management and data science specialists, the list goes on.
With more BIM Coordinators and Managers leaving the talent pool and less trainees coming into it, it is clear to see the challenge is going to increase.
With non-project funded BIM / Digital specialists, the talent pool is more populated. Despite the heavy cuts in 2020, most have found new homes or freelance work. A lot of the freelancers are still keen to secure good full-time roles. Looking ahead, there is a good supply of BIM Managers, keen to take on more firmwide responsibility, ready to jump into this pool.
THE IMPACT ON SALARIES – why are less experienced candidates costing more?
Supply and demand drives salaries. When demand is high and supply low, salaries are going to go up. And vice-versa.
Businesses with a healthy balance sheet and willing to offer better than average salaries are still able to attract BIM talent.
Those with tighter cost control have a big challenge with salary caps at or below the average level. The need to find more affordable, yet experienced, BIM talent has got to the point where the talent pool is empty. Now the expected level of experience is having to be lowered to find candidates within salary range. Gradually, as this less experienced talent pool dries up we are seeing higher salaries (still within the original cap) being offered. Salaries for the less experienced are closing in on those with more.
Obviously, if you are cash rich and able to pay more it is easier to find talent – at least for now. For a more financially sustainable solution we are seeing some interesting ideas evolve as companies adapt:
1: Keeping good talent: It is much more cost effective to keep good talent than be forced to replace it. We are seeing increasing attention on existing staff – finding out what matters most and responding to their needs. Even having the discussion builds trust in you as an employer and builds loyalty. Some of the most effective responses to ‘what matters most’ are listed here:
2: Better work/life balance. To keep and attract staff there’s increasing attention on making 40 hours per week more enjoyable with you than elsewhere. Adapting to remote working is an obvious example but my favourite is career mapping. However, the important change is that one size does not fit all. Smaller, agile companies are doing this very well and benefitting.
3: Employ talent where they are, not where you are. This can mean more than just working from home during the pandemic. Some companies are thinking bigger. They are allowing their existing ‘European’ staff to work from home in Europe. They are recruiting new, good, experienced, BIM talent that want to stay in Europe too. Why pay a high salary to justify the high cost of living and commuting costs in, say London, when you can pay much less for the same output from someone much happier working closer to family in Malaga? It will save on office space too.
Thought. If you cannot justify totally remote working from abroad, why not reduce the cost of your expensive city centre office in the UK and open up an affordable satellite office in Europe?
4: Golden hellos. Often the higher salary levels needed to attract the must-have talent is a problem because so many others already in the business will need increasing. Instead of offering a boat rocking higher salary now, some are offering next year’s salary now but making the difference today with a golden hello. Let’s say you need a ‘Proficient’ BIM Coordinator. You have found one, but she is already earning £50k as are all the other ‘Proficient’ BIM Coordinators in your business. You need to offer her more money to move. If you were to offer her £50k + £5k golden hello she would probably jump at the opportunity to receive £5k cash and a guaranteed pay rise to £55k (at least) in a years’ time. In fact, had you offered that salary in your advert you would have got far more candidates to choose from.
5: Real career progression. The longer-term, most cost-effective, loyalty building solution that helps you retain and attract staff. Companies showing (not telling) candidates how they can progress in their company are able to attract career focussed better. With naivety about what BIM is, and what needs doing, a lot of people have got trapped in dead-end jobs. A career map, with milestones, is a great way to prove you are committed to their progression.
6: Freelance expertise. This is a great way to reduce risk yet bring in real expertise that can help avoid the challenges the less experienced will not foresee – and deliver high quality work in much less time.
dbe.careers has developed this free BIM Expert Directory to help employers find freelance BIM experts-on-demand.
7: Be open to other disciplines. We all know BIM is a process, not a technology. Process is discipline agnostic. When talent is so hard to find, and expensive, why ignore good BIM savvy candidates from other construction disciplines? If someone can ensure BIM excellence with a Buildings Contractor, why can’t they with a Civils Contractor? Obviously, if you need a Technician who can use Civils 3D then a Revit specialist won’t help – but that’s tek, not process, not BIM.
SOME DO’s and don’ts:
Don’t assume there are plenty of candidates available. At JohnsonBIM we are seeing more businesses offering lower salaries with the expectation that, in the current climate, they have more candidates to choose from – and someone will work at that price. Firstly, as explained above, unless they are looking for senior level, firmwide talent, there are not more candidates available. Secondly, even if there were, as soon as salaries start to rise, these candidates will move, and the costly exercise of replacing them starts again.
The salary guide helps you make sure you know what the right amount to pay is.
DO attract the talent that others are missing. You can be certain that ‘active’ job seekers will be applying to other adverts. You can expect the competition to be fierce and probably a salary auction. Active job seekers only make up 20% of the total market. Smart marketing is focussed on the 4x larger, passive audience. dbe.careers has put together a smart advertising guide aimed at tapping into this larger audience.
DO be quick Businesses looking to recruit must move quickly to find candidates with the right skills. Companies need to shortlist candidates within a few days to keep them interested, otherwise they will more than likely accept an offer from another business.
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