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Prioritise salaries and career development to attract the best architecture staff in a competitive market

By Richard Gelder, Director of Hays Construction & Property

Despite the uncertainty posed by ongoing Brexit negotiations, according to the findings of our latest Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2019 guide, 78% of architecture employers say they expect to recruit staff over the coming year. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of those who plan to recruit are seeking permanent staff and almost a third (29%) are looking for temporary or contract staff. In terms of specific skillsets, over half (56%) need professionals with niche technical skills, and 24% are looking for project management specialists.

Architectural skills shortages threatening plans

However, over the last year 79% of architecture employers say they have had difficulty recruiting permanent architecture staff, particularly experienced staff (44%) and both middle (21%) and senior management (21%). Across the construction and property industry as a whole, over half (56%) of employers say that skills shortages are having a negative effect on productivity.

Whilst skills shortages in architecture is not a new issue, some employers may be concerned that the uncertainty around Brexit could be exacerbating this issue – potentially contributing to a lack of European talent coming to the UK, as well as causing a lack of movement by employees looking to avoid the ‘last in, first out’ effect.

Yet over the last year, nearly a third of architecture professionals have changed job and nearly half (49%) have considered moving. Added together, these figures point to a significant pool of potential candidates who would be willing to move for the right job, with the benefits they are looking for.

Salaries on the rise: but is this enough?

Salaries in architecture have risen by an average of 2.7% in the last year. Yet it would seem that this is not enough to retain top talent. Of those professionals who moved over the last year, 38% moved because their salary was too low. There are other factors at work however, which may prove important for employers looking to attract and retain the best architecture professionals in an increasingly competitive market: 30% moved because their previous role wasn’t challenging enough, and 25% were looking for career development.

So what can you do to make sure you are attracting and retaining the very best architecture staff?

  • Salary: a third of architecture staff are currently unhappy with their salary, believing it doesn’t reflect their performance or responsibilities, and only 6% described themselves as ‘very satisfied’ with their current pay. If your salaries aren’t competitive, candidates and existing employees know that they can find the pay they’re looking for elsewhere.
  • Challenging and rewarding role: as previously mentioned, many architecture employees will move if they do not feel their work is challenging enough, or if they are concerned about their career progression. It is vital that employers make it clear to candidates from the recruitment stage that there is a clear career development pathway for them, and follow up at regular intervals to ensure they feel the work they are doing is having an impact on their professional future.
  • Benefits: for 61% of architecture employees, the most important benefit when considering a new role is over 28 days’ paid annual leave. Whatever benefits you offer, from pensions to healthcare and even cycle to work schemes, make sure your package meets the requirements of both candidates and existing staff. You should also consider adjusting these according to seniority, for example by offering financial support for studies and further qualifications for staff who are still working through their professional qualifications.

To discover more insights about the architecture market, and the prospects for the next year for the construction and property industry as a whole, request your copy of the Hays salary guide at hays.co.uk/salary-guide.

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Richard leads specialist recruiting consultants across the sector. He joined Hays in 1991 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was appointed Director in 2001.

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