DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION SALARY UPDATE
2019: Q2: BUILD
WHY ARE SUB £50K, ‘ON-THE-WAY-UP’ BIM CO-ORDINATORS IN MOST DEMAND?
DEMAND + SUPPLY = SALARY (usually)
Variations in the need for talent and the availability of it – ‘demand and supply’ are the primary drivers behind changes in salaries. You need demand and supply intelligence – specific to our digital construction world – to understand the fluctuations in salaries over the last quarter.
With unpredictable future workload (for more detail see appendix 1 below), the overall drop in new jobs across the construction industry is no surprise. However, with increasing demand for better BIM, the number of Digital Construction opportunities is more stable.
Tighter budgets mean only the most critical roles are being filled. Typically, these are on new projects needing BIM management.
With stricter spending caps we are noticing most salaries on offer are not matching the experience required. Hence, we are seeing roles increasingly defined by salary and as much relevant experience as possible within the budget.
With the temporary slowdown in demand and some ‘re-sizing’ going it is tempting to think there is an increase in talent availability.
In reality, the uncertainty in the market has led to a head down / weather the storm approach by most. Generally, any ‘re-sizing’ is bypassing the digital teams and the demand for better BIM means more feet on the ground. So, we are not seeing an increase in supply.
What we are seeing is a more ‘discerning’ talent pool. The vast majority of ‘available talent’ is interested purely in a good career move – they want to be a part of the drive for better outcomes and/or have had enough of arm waving and false promises.
Unfortunately, many are ‘stuck’ in project BIM Management roles. Frequently delivering ‘do it if we must’ BIM. This is where the demand is at the moment. The supply is looking at the next rung on the ladder.
Click here for the latest salary guide for BIM / Digital Engineers with major contractors in the UK or download it here:
Although salaries are normally defined by demand and supply, in a ‘downturn’ the bean counters reign supreme and salaries for new roles are defined by budget.
Salary reviews for existing staff are still increasing averages but much less so than when demand is high.
- The majority of the demand is for site-based BIM project managers;
- The majority of supply is already managing BIM on a project and wants to step up;
- The bean counters are trying to cap salaries at £50k;
- £50k = good BIM co-ordinators, not experienced BIM Managers.
Therefore, sub £50k, ‘on-the-way-up’, BIM co-ordinators with management capability/aspirations are in most demand. Ironically, this is leading to the biggest increase in salaries. Which raises the question, what happens next? Do the bean counters need to raise the cap or will less experienced BIM Co-ordinators become the most sought after? We are seeing early signs of the latter.
Those contractors that are focusing on capability first and paying the right amount for it are seeing a small increase in supply.
This table gives a simple overview of the market, at the moment!
|Firmwide/strategic roles:||No change, very low||Increasing||Downward pressure|
|BIM Project Manager roles:||Decreasing||Increasing||Stable|
|BIM Co-ordinator roles||Increasing||Decreasing||Increasing|
|BIM Trainee roles:||Increasing||Decreasing||Upward pressure|
For more detail on each role see appendix 2 below
UNPREDICTBLE WORKLOAD = LESS DEMAND
The construction industry is in for a bit of a bumpy ride. We have seen no improvement since the less than optimistic March 2019 Construction Output report from the Office for National Statistics where Quarter 1, 2019 saw ‘…decreases in private commercial and housing new work of 4.7% and 1.2% respectively…’
It will be interesting to read their Q2 report (released July 10) but the latest IHS Markit release suggests we won’t be celebrating a return to recent highs and the increasing lack of confidence is making clients more cautious. Quoting Richard Steer from his article in Building in April:
‘…Confidence among many clients is apparently at levels last seen after the 2008 crash and the potential for an uplift anytime soon seems unlikely. True, there is still some work out there but with lenders equally nervous about the future, even if you are busy many subcontractors are not keen or simply unable to extend themselves by tendering until there is more clarity…’
…and Duncan Brock in the IHT Markit release:
“… There’s a huge question mark over whether there will be any further improvements in the coming months as new orders fell for the first time since May 2018. This lack of pipeline work has made firms more cautious about their hiring strategies with the first fall in employment levels since July 2016 in a bid to curb their rising costs and reduce their excess capacity…”
DETAIL ON EACH ROLE:
Over the last year, more senior roles have been made redundant than new ones created. Those that remain still command the same salary as before with some annual increases hence some modest rises. As always, these figures are the average. At the extremes, some salaries are getting close to £150k and some are still £60k. The few roles created have focussed on candidates with less experience to keep the cost down – hence a slightly higher rise at the ‘Competent, DE4.3’ level. There has been no change in demand over the last quarter and therefore no change in salaries. Picture the same across the UK but some specialist opportunities overseas.
BIM Project Manager roles:
Similar number of roles were available until March 2019. Since then there has been a significant slowdown – see BEWARE POTHOLES article. Any demand has been defined by budget hence instead of recruiting new blood, existing staff are being booked in when their current projects end. When new blood is essential, budgets again define the roles so sub £60k (ideally, sub £50k) BIM Managers and ‘on-the-way-up’ BIM Co-ordinators are being sought. During May we have seen an increase in demand for ‘Competent’ BIM Managers – we will see if this is a trend or a glitch over the next 3 months. Most demand is outside London and overseas.
BIM Co-ordinator roles:
Until March this year this was the area of most demand. It will be again when projects start up again. As mentioned previously, with roles defined by budgets, anyone below £50k has been in demand – especially for those with enough experience to quickly develop into ‘affordable’ BIM Managers. Because of the increase in demand and lack of supply, salaries for some senior BIM Co-ordinators were passing BIM Managers’. Since March demand has, again, slowed down to almost zero. Increased interest from the BIM Consultancies who usually benefit when companies tighten their belts. Again, most demand is outside London as there is so much surplus in the Capital.
BIM Trainee roles:
Growing demand particularly with the BIM Consultancies. Affordable, ‘digital natives’ with the potential to develop quickly into digital construction specialists that can spell AI. Demand across the UK.
THE DEMAND FOR MILLENNIAL
Finally, millennials. I would like to think the increasing demand is based on a healthy programme of enriching innovative teams with the digital DNA of the future. The reality is, again, the need to reduce costs. It is, at least, good to note increasing awareness that digital is best!