Market Update: Sydney Architecture & Interior Design, May 202328th April 2023 / Market Updates Tips & Advice
Welcome to BTP Sydney’s market update report on the Architectural and Interior Design industries and in particular their respective job markets, interesting times without a doubt!
Since the start of the year, it will likely come as no surprise that we have seen a softening in the job market, in-line with an increase in both interest rates and inflation since the last quarter of 2022. The confidence that comes with hiring patterns has been tested and our usual uptick in new positions that traditionally arrive in February/ March, didn’t fully materialise.
Overall, this was felt more harshly in the Architectural industry, with some companies having to look at making a number of people redundant. This was a shock to see at first, as it had been some time since we had experienced rounds of redundancies however, at this stage it appears to be limited to isolated situations, in most instances as a result of larger projects being put on hold or going into a new phase.
Whilst redundancies have been occasional, we have noticed increased caution from Clients in relation to filling recently created positions through resignations etc, often preferring to ‘watch and see’ before making a commitment to hire. All of which is a very different mindset to the initial post-pandemic markets of 2021-2022.
But: Is it all negative? – No! Not by a long shot. On the flip side, we have seen a number of companies continue to hire and grow through the first quarter of 2023 and Interiors in particular remains busy across most sectors. The NSW state elections also provided some hesitancy in the market and now this (and Easter!) are behind us, clients are looking forward with a bit more certainty.
One other interesting shift in the current candidate market is the return of overseas candidates. Since the start of the year, the applications from off-shore have increased significantly and the number of working holiday visa applicants arriving has also started to ramp up.
This has been widely welcomed, as an increase in the number of talented candidates to choose from has been a real positive for our client base, who struggled through 2020/2021 whilst Australia’s border was shut. Sydney has always had a strong multi-cultural work-force, especially in Architecture and Design and our industry thrives on the constant injection of new ideas that international applications bring to the mix. Visa terminology is now well and truly back into our daily vernacular, and if you would like to know more on that please click here to read our latest article on Visas. But for now, let’s dig a little deeper on what is going on out there:
As mentioned above, Architecture has been slower than 2022 but we are still seeing a very strong Multi-unit Residential/ Mixed used sector currently, fueled by an under supply of housing in NSW – we anticipate this remaining to be the case over the next couple of years. We also expect the build-to-rent market to continue to grow in NSW.
Defence is also a strong industry at the moment, the government has earmarked a large amount of spending in this area over the next few years and there are some sizable contracts on the table.
New Education projects in both the public and private sectors have also provided us with new roles since the start of the year, along with the Commercial/Industrial market, which has remained strong over the past 12 months.
Large infrastructure projects including Western Sydney Airport and the Sydney Metro will continue to provide practices with work in the future, though there has been a stop/ start nature to these larger projects which has meant practices involved have had to manage their teams accordingly.
As is normally the case, strong job running Project Architects are finding roles pretty quickly, especially those that are registered, have Multi-unit residential or larger scale experience and are hands on with Revit!
As we know, Interiors doesn’t always follow Architecture, and the Interior Design market has remained strong over the last couple of months with work across all sectors including Workplace, Retail, Hospitality and Residential. Currently there is strong demand for mid-level designers with broad skill set, able to work on projects from concept through to completion.
Further to this, we have noted some studios are finding it hard to find the right staff and are having to reconsider looking at part-time options to supplement their existing workforce. Interestingly there have been a number of opportunities within the high-end residential sector for Senior Designers who are looking for a part-time role.
Software-wise, we are currently seeing Revit and Vectorworks lead the way in terms of demand from our clients.
In all, Interiors has been relatively consistent, in both volume and variety of new roles, although, perhaps reflective of the times, Clients are not in a desperate hiring mindset and therefore will be specific in their selection process to ensure they secure the exact fit.
As we continue to recover from the global Pandemic, each year brings a different experience, like everywhere else, the work from home debate is alive and well in Architecture and Design – and we are most certainly seeing a stronger drive from Clients to have staff more present in the office. The external forces have us working in a market that feels to be almost one of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, some firms are incredibly busy, others are not; it’s very much a mixed bag. To a degree this is also emulated in the Candidate pool, with some job seekers receiving 2 or 3 offers and others struggling to get that new role. Is it what we would consider a more normal market with ups and the downs? Hard to say, but as always sentiment is a powerful force and there is no doubt the interest rate increases, rental crisis and general cost of living has impacted the general outlook.
What we can say is that 2023 has not been boring! We are working with our excellent, highly valued Clients and Candidates, and at this stage of the year, it feels like everyone is just keen to work hard and get on with it. So that’s what we’re doing as we look ahead to see what the rest of the year has in store.
As always, we say, bring it on!
Partner – Sydney