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Market Update: London Architecture & Interior Design, December 2023

30th November 2023 / Market Updates
Photo: Jurica Koletic

Our fantastic affiliate over in the UK, Oliver Tidmarsh from Jak Consultancy gave some great insight into happenings over in his neck of the woods within Architecture and Design, so if you are considering a trek over to the UK or indeed are just curious, here’s what he had to say:

So following the Recruitment Expo back in April and listening to a talk by the chairman of the REC https://www.rec.uk.com it was suggested that recruitment in general in the UK would have a 30-35% drop in 2023. This does follow one of the greatest years for recruiters in 2022.

Although the opportunities are down, what I have noticed is an upswing in salaries, which although many people think this is a long time coming it does mean potential hires are now weighing up a broader range of benefits when selecting an employer.

I have observed the most substantial increase in UK salaries in the history of my salary reviews. This trend aligns with recent data indicating a record surge in UK wages during the final quarter of 2022. Within our sector, mid-level architects and designers, particularly those adept in Revit and BIM, have experienced the most significant surge in compensation. Notably, support roles have also witnessed substantial increases, potentially addressing historical remuneration gaps predating the pandemic.

While some organisations have adjusted salaries in response to the cost-of-living crisis, the primary driving force behind this upward trajectory is the scarcity of talent, intensifying the competition to attract and retain skilled professionals.

Though this surge in salaries is advantageous for employees, it places additional strain on businesses contending with soaring material and energy prices. While escalating staff costs are not the sole driver, they undeniably contribute to the overall trend. Smaller firms, in particular, face challenges in competing financially to secure and retain talent. To counter this, some mid-sized studios have undertaken comprehensive benefits overhauls, emphasising the holistic job offer and package rather than focusing solely on salary.

Photo: Markus Loke

Private healthcare, once reserved for senior staff, is now an expected inclusion with additional perks such as reduced gym memberships and travel benefits. These enhancements not only add tangible value but also support employees in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and well-being. Increasing holiday entitlement proves to be a highly effective negotiation tool without immediate financial implications for the business. Offering additional days during industry-wide closures, such as Christmas and New Year, is viewed positively, and loyalty is rewarded with increased leave allowances based on length of service.

Promoting non-cash benefits is crucial for attracting top talent.

Salary sacrifice emerges as a creative avenue for businesses to provide non-cash benefits, resulting in reduced tax liabilities for both employers and employees.

Childcare costs, pensions, cycle-to-work schemes, and gym memberships are commonly leveraged in this arrangement, demanding meticulous administration and legally binding variations to employment contracts. In an era where the benefits package plays a pivotal role in attracting talent, it is more crucial than ever for employers to actively communicate and quantify their offerings. Incorporating the monetary value of each benefit in job advertisements, interviews, and offer-stage documentation can significantly enhance the appeal of a job opportunity and contribute to success in the competitive recruitment landscape.

Moving closer to 2024, I am hoping for easier, more cost-effective visa and sponsor ship and hopefully a productive and busy year. I do feel that many employers are also going to have to look outside of the traditional hire and look at staff from different backgrounds and trying to uncover the hidden talent.

Oliver Tidmarsh
Partner – Jak Consultancy

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