Sydney Market Update – Winter 2015

What a start to the year we’ve had in here in Sydney! Things have certainly been busy in the office since late February, seeing a rapid increase in the number new positions listed with us. We have noticed that the number of permanent roles on offer has once again increased indicating that the confidence in the hiring strategies is strong.

We now find ourselves firmly in a market that is under supplied with candidates with the relevant experience and a client base that is having to reassess their hiring options as they are unable to find that ‘perfect’ candidate. Architecture, especially, has always been exposed to an ‘under-skilled’ supply pool, the GFC had masked this for a few years and now that we are back to the levels of demand for staff not seen since prior to 2009, we are at times, limited to a very small pool of strong candidates.

One positive knock-on effect of this for our candidates, is that we are seeing salaries starting to increase as a result of the supply/demand situation. Many candidates that are coming into the market are seeing that they are able to get one than one offer to compare, putting them somewhat in a position of power.

Another positive effect of the shift in market forces is that candidates are able to come in to see us for genuine ‘career management’ advice. We are able to provide different avenues and paths to candidates as a result of working with a client base that is more diverse and in many cases open to considering candidates with differencing skill sets.

So what is driving all this? Low Interest Rates? Cheap Steel? Foreign Investors? The booming property market? Under-supply of housing in NSW?

It would be safe to say that it is probably a combination of all of the above. The main thing is that it appears that the confidence is there, that the outlook for new projects is positive, inquiries are up and the banks seem happy to finance projects again. All this leads to a strong Architectural and Interior Design market.


The Architectural market remains strong and the positive signs we saw at the end of 2014 have continued into the first half of the year. Firms right across the spectrum of small to large appear to have a lot of work ‘on the board’ at the moment along with a healthy pipeline of new enquiries. There is no doubt that the multi-unit residential market remains the catalyst behind the upturn in the market but pleasingly we have also seen new positions created to work on health, infrastructure, retail, education and hospitality projects. The roles are also widespread in terms of the types of positions being offered from Graduate roles, right up to Practice Manager level positions, all oh which been listed in the last few months

We are hearing that the main reason for all this confidence in the market appears to be the continued influx of money from Asia into the property market, continual hold on interest rates and a general sense that the global and local financial markets are strong. In a recent article in the Fin Review, it was disclosed that even with the current rate of residential apartment development in NSW there will still be a shortfall of approximately 5000 units by 2020. This was in comparison to the other states, which are likely to have an oversupply issue in the same period.

The main demand at the moment in Sydney within Architecture is for good all-round, mid-level Architects. Candidates at the 4-8 year level are in particularly sought after as companies look to build strong teams and have employees that can grow over time with investment from within. Also companies are very keen to find good Project Architect’s with the ability to run their own projects and take some of the pressure off of their existing staff. Therefore candidates with 10-15 years’ experience that are looking for a challenging role and have strong technical and co-ordination skills are in demand.

We are seeing that the demand for BIM software skills remains strong, reflecting the continually increasing decision by practices to move into this area.  Whilst in-house training of staff is on-going, the demand for those with strong experience (minimum 2-3 years) in Revit and ArchiCAD is high. Demand for such skills is now at a point where it is outstripping available high quality applicants. Whilst there has been good demand for experienced AutoCAD personnel, this has normally been in conjunction with specific project requirements.


Interior Design

One area that has really been positive since the start of the year is the Sydney Interior Design market, which has provided us with plenty of exciting roles. One area, in particular that is really driving things at the moment is the corporate fit-out market where we have been working on a number of senior positions with large high profile practices, right the way through to small one-person organizations that need help with documenting on a part-time basis.

In addition to this we have seen a number of Design and Construct firms doing particularly well within the corporate fit-out market, with a number of these firms experiencing a growth period in their interiors teams.

The residential interiors market has also been very strong over the last few months with a number of interesting permanent positions coming through for mid-level Interiors Designers.

Within the Interiors market, the sentiment from our client is very positive at the moment, many firms have a strong pipeline of work with a number of companies going so far as to say that they are having to turn work down!

Final word

My final word would be to ‘get in touch’. With the market as strong as it is, we are very keen to hear from candidates that are currently looking for new opportunities or would like to discuss their career paths.

Jamie Keay

Partner – BT&P Sydney

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