Melbourne Market Update – Spring 2018

26th September 2018 / Market Updates

Flinders St Station

As we head into October there is plenty to talk about in the Spring Market Update. It’s that time of the year when everyone starts asking “what’s happening into the end of the year and into 2019?”

In this update, we take a broad look at market activity, where the roles are likely to be as we head into 2019, and zone in on a range of points to help you out – whether that be recruiting for new roles within your business or looking for a new role personally.

There has been lots of discussion about what overall activity levels are, where projects are headed, what sectors are hungry for staff and what the next sectors are that will be recruiting teams into the end of the year and into 2019.

Technology is also high on the list of conversations we are having currently as many practices on the front of the technology curve are devouring new software and the hunt for talented staff with these cutting edge skills is on the increase.

Rates and Salaries are a constant source of conversation here in the BTP Melbourne HQ, with many groups having been through mid year reviews recently, and others gearing up for end of year reviews.

Please check out our article here to gain some insight into this area. Also, our rate and Salary schedules were updated recently so please contact Gemma Hillas if you need to see the most up to date figures.

For those yet to be introduced, Sarah Durso has joined the team here at BTP, recruiting in the Business Services sector and this has seen us working with some great clients on a broad range of roles that make up the overall mix of staff in design studios. Sarah is currently working on a range of positions spanning the Reception, Personal Assistant, Accounts, Social Media and Marketing areas. Sarah welcomes your call if you need help in these areas.


So what’s really happening out there?

If you just sat back and looked at the papers, websites and television, there are plenty of mixed messages in regard to the property market, particularly the housing sector. It seems that there are some outlandish predictions in that space – the more sensational the claim, the bigger the headline! I would have to say what we are seeing in terms of new positions listed with us doesn’t reflect anywhere near this level of negativity. We have seen the housing market soften to a degree with the banking and off shore funding changes that have occurred, however we are actively recruiting across a wide range of project sectors that are very busy. Residential is still amongst the mix, in the form of design focused owner occupied apartments, medium density developments, and high-end owner occupied homes, veering away from the investment driven apartment stock of recent years.

In other sectors, we are seeing an influx in new and refurbished hotels (both Architecture and Interiors), commercial and mixed use developments, health, education and infrastructure, creating a broad mix of projects in early design and pre-construction stages. The activity in these sectors currently far outweighs uncertainly stemming from the housing market, with several of these sectors expected to ramp up into 2019.

Overall economic fundamentals still seem to be sound, interest rates are still historically low, population growth continues in major cities and overall unemployment rates are at relative lows, so many of the factors that underpin good market conditions are sound.

Whilst there have been small pockets of redundancies in select areas, we are still seeing strong demand for Design Architects, Project Architects/ Leaders, Revit technicians and Interior designers, both in permanent and long term contract roles. The number of positions certainly outweighs the available candidates and those redundancies were quickly reabsorbed into other firms. In addition to this, there has been a real swing upwards for roles such as graphics oriented submissions managers, bid writers and social media/marketing roles as these roles become more entrenched in the overall fabric of a design studio.

A number of new roles particularly in design focused early stage positions are starting to demand skills in new and emerging technologies, so data driven and generative design methods, parametric modelling and communicative delivery functions are increasingly forming part of job descriptions in addition to traditional design tools and BIM skills generally, so it is important to keep abreast of these new technologies as they emerge – whilst still remembering how to draw!

We are constantly working with talented people with great folios, but it is important if you are looking for a new role to make sure you’re presenting yourself and your folio in the best way possible. Even though the market is buoyant and there are really good opportunities out there, a key element for anyone at interview is the quality of your folio. This extends not only to the project experience you show, but how the folio is structured and presented. These factors can give you the advantage over other candidates for that dream job, so for the industry’s best advice on preparing and presenting your folio, please refer to this article for folio hacks and tips from our self confessed folio queen, Stephanie Gleeson. It just might put you at the top of that list!

With some of the subtle changes in the market of late we have seen an increase in hourly rate temporary and independent contract positions coming through, currently making up around 30% of new positions at any given time and often in the 3 to 12 months range. We generally find that some people who have not had experience with contracting in the past have a number of misconceptions and uncertainties about this type of engagement. While the word ‘contract’ can make some think uncertainty, we definitely don’t see this to be the case with upwards of 80% of our current contract agreements continuing beyond their initial engagement period.

Firms will generally engage Independent Contractors to ensure current projects have ample resources to meet demands, with most Practices using a contract period to determine overall suitability for potential permanent positions. With most prolific firms scheduling work upwards of 12 months in advance, job security is seldom an issue. Please refer to our article from earlier in the year to understand the ‘perks’ of being a Contractor.

With fierce competition out there in the recruitment-sphere, we have had a number of firms ask us ‘How do I keep my staff here?’ In the current candidate favoured market this can be harder said than done.There are a number of precautions that can be taken in order to retain talent within the business ranging across culture, communication, career progression, remuneration, and job satisfaction. You can find further information on this here.

So that’s the wrap for this edition – if you have any questions or queries, please get in touch with Bruce Whetters on 03 9349 1055 or  [email protected]


Bruce Whetters

Partner – BT&P Melbourne

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