Melbourne Market Update – Autumn 2018

12th April 2018 / Market Updates

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – designed by Silver Thomas, Designinc, and McBride Charles Ryan. Image by Peter Bennets (Plenary Group). Via Architecture & Design.Royal Woman’s Hospital: DesignInc in joint venture with Woodhead (DWI) | Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre: Silver Thomas Hanley and DesignInc in joint venture with McBride Charles Ryan (STHDI+MCR) | Photography: Peter Bennetts

As we fly into April, the team here at BT&P Melbourne are seeing some strong forward indicators from a recruitment perspective in the Melbourne market, with all indicators suggesting 2018 is poised for a consistently strong path through the remainder of the year.

As always with the recruitment market in Architecture, we are seeing different project sectors increase in activity, whilst others come off the boil, and the past 6 months has seen some changes in where activity levels are based, however with the overall feel still remaining strong.


Where is the work?

Perhaps the biggest change we have seen in the past 6 months has been an increase in smaller to mid scale projects across a wide range of sectors, meaning a big upswing in recruitment for smaller to mid scale studios. This work has been spread across both Architecture and Interiors projects with many new roles being created within smaller highly regarded design studios with some amazing projects coming up as a result.

With less emphasis now in the market on investor lead tall apartment towers, we continue to see a wide range of projects in the medium density residential sector, many of which are quite sizeable projects. Additionally, larger studios are still very upbeat about the range and scale of projects in the mixed use, commercial, health / research and hotel sectors, with perhaps the largest recruitment drive across the industry currently aimed at talented Project Architects who can lead teams and drive projects across all phases of mid to larger scale projects – ideally Revit skilled!

There are a number of one off type projects that are in early concept stages, which point to some very interesting projects yet to be announced – watch this space!


What is the economy doing?

Whilst the focus has moved away from tall apartment towers to a degree, which was largely a  result of the availability of offshore finance, local economic factors have remained very stable in terms finance availability and interest rates, and appear poised to stay at these low levels for the medium term. This stability has created a general economic feel that sees property development remain in positive territory in Melbourne for the foreseeable future.

Melbourne’s much talked about population growth continues at high levels, and this continues to drive residential, childcare, education, commercial and mixed use development. In addition to this, large infrastructure projects are the focus of the State Government, so we continue to see excellent roles being created as a part of this increased infrastructure spend.

Whilst there is talk in the media of house prices slowing in terms of the established real estate market, there is still considerable demand for new projects that offer a mix of residential properties for owner occupiers and investor sectors alike.


What roles are we recruiting on currently?


Current activity levels see a broad range of roles spanning all project phases, so it is a really exciting time for those looking for new roles, with a wide array of roles available.

We have a number of Design opportunities for concept design roles across all experience levels, from talented experienced Graduates with strong 3D design and presentation skills right through to Associate level roles with clear career progression and advancement opportunities available.

Project Architects with upward of 8 years experience are a real demand hotspot at the moment, with opportunities to take key project leadership responsibilities on retail, mixed use, hotel, commercial, education, rail, health and high end residential projects all demanding multiple professionals with these skills and experience. Many of these roles require strong design empathy as a part of the mix, reflecting the high end design driven nature of many of these projects.

Interior Designers are also in high demand, with roles spanning Graduate level right through to Associate roles and above. Those with a strong concept focus and coordination skills are in demand, with many of the smaller studios looking for that all rounder who can document their own projects as a part of the skills mix. With Revit and ArchiCAD demand continuing to spread through the Interiors market, many newly created roles are demanding strong Revit or ArchiCAD skills as a priority. Projects are broadly based, with roles on hotel, apartment, commercial workplace, high end residential, retail and some incredible boutique hospitality projects all available. With the increasing demand in Interiors, we are also seeing some excellent positions available for designers in the 3 to 5 year range to really step up into roles of leadership, with excellent career opportunities as a result.

Architectural technicians and experienced documentation Architects remain in good demand, with a high proportion of these roles focused on extensive Revit experience, with ArchiCAD still providing many opportunities. AutoCAD roles are still available, however with many of these being contract roles based around project specific requirements.

We are currently reviewing our Rate and Salary schedules early this year, with expectations that those having June reviews will have increases above CPI at this time.

Strategic roles for talented Design Architects, client focused delivery Architects and Interior Designers with pathways to Associate level (and above) continue to exist, with a number of practices working closely with us as a part of their overall management and business strategy.

We are also working on a broader array of newly created roles such as Submissions/ Marketing Managers with a graphics background, Studio and Finance Managers and administration roles all coming in that make up the broader fabric of a Design studio.


Our Senior Salary Survey

We also wanted to thank of the hundreds of clients who were kind enough to take time out late last year to complete our Senior Level Salary Survey. This has become an invaluable reference source to the industry and continues to inform practices in the area of Senior remuneration structuring and overall trends and sentiments in the industry, so thanks again to all of those who participated – your time and input has been invaluable.

Some quick points that came out of this years survey:

  1. 52.38% of practices surveyed are actively engaged in procuring projects overseas
  2. 70% of practices stated that “cultural fit” was extremely important in their hiring decisions
  3. 63% of practices valued attitude as the highest consideration when recruiting
  4. Concerns were raised about the impact on staff with increased travel times to the office over the last 2 years
  5. Hours worked per week by Equity Directors – 23% work 55 hours and above, 38% work 45 to 55 hours per week.
  6. 40% of practices indicated they intended recruiting staff in the next 6 months, 6% anticipated downsizing in the same period.


The top 5 most “in demand” backgrounds were:

  1. Mid Level Architects at 4-7 years experience
  2. Revit skilled Technicians
  3. Interior Designers at 4-7 years experience
  4. Experienced Project Architects with 9 + years experience and
  5. Mid Level Project Architects at 6-8 years experience.


So, to wrap up, we are anticipating a consistent run through the remainder of the year, many  studios will continue to expand, a small number are considering contraction – the nature of projects driving activity levels has shifted over the past 12 months, however there is a broader mix of projects from small scale through to very large, both Architecture and Interiors, offering some terrific roles and career opportunities across the board.


Bruce Whetters

Partner – BT&P Melbourne

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