WHAT HAPPENED IN 2018?
2017 started the trend and 2018 cemented it – survival in unpredictable waters. With uncertainty evident many companies have handed the keys over to the CFO. I have seen this happen repeatedly over the last 30 years. The construction industry is usually the first to suffer in a downturn and the last to recover. Construction needs big investment and investment needs confidence – or a government able and willing to spend.
With a strong focus on the bottom line, recruitment has rapidly shifted purely to project funded roles. Despite increasing client demand for better BIM, with workload slowing down, many companies are filling these roles by re-assigning staff from other projects – whether they have the capability to deliver (BIM) well or not.
Less projects, ‘right’ sizing, wobbly balance sheets and the demise of some has logically reduced the demand for talent and increased supply. With more people getting ‘BIM’ experience, 2018 has seen an increase in the number of Digital Engineers entering the market too. I am being careful with my words here. I have not said there has been an increase in the availability of genuinely good BIM specialists. In fact, 2018 saw a decrease.
Some assume that less demand and higher supply means salaries will at least stabilise, if not drop. This may well be true for generalist recruitment but not for specialists. Nevertheless, 2018 saw a significant slowdown in salary increases. This is most noticeable at the firmwide/strategic level where there is little demand as good BIM is already embedded (apparently!). There is a slowdown at the senior project management level too – a lot of clients don’t want to pay for the experience.
There is a misconception that all these indicators lead to more choice. Not so. The demand has been for safe pairs of hands that know how to deliver good BIM. As there has not been an increase in the availability of this higher level of experience, demand remained above capacity and salaries rose. Clients that understand this have capitalised on exceptional talent in 2018 and are widening the gap between themselves and the less enlightened.