More architecture professionals to receive a pay rise – but the value will be less

Jun 3, 2019
  • Article by Madeleine Swain

The 2019/2020 Hays Salary Guide has been released, revealing salary and recruitment trends in Australia and New Zealand across multiple industries.

Simon Bristow, regional director of Hays Architecture, says that the report implies both positives and negatives for the profession, but that the long-term prospects for the industry are good. The report is based on a survey of more than 3400 organisations and 88 percent of those in the construction, engineering and property sector said that they would be increasing salaries in their next reviews (up from 84 percent last year).

Those increases would be smaller than architects may have hoped for, however. Fifty-four percent of firms in this sector will be raising salaries at the lower level of up to three percent (down from 45 percent last year).

Bristow attributes this to a cross industry trend. “It’s a broader issue,” he says. “This has become the norm. I think the construction industry is still busy, but there’s some slowdown in some locations.”

One thing that will not change, says Bristow, is that skilled candidates will still be sought after. “No matter the market, there’s always a demand for highly capable architects and interior designers and planners,” he stresses.

Bristow believes employees are conscious of where the pay levels are sitting and frustrated with their salaries, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are looking to move on, as their employers are working hard to offer more than simply money.

“It’s about the flexibility you offer your employees,” he says. “It’s about the creative element, the learning and development.”

There is wariness about offering high salaries, he says. “In the last decade, even in the busier market that we’ve had, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, a lot of organisations are still cautious.”

The industry has been through a tough time but the last three or four years have seen an improvement, believes Bristow. “We’ve had a residential boom, we’ve had a huge amount of infrastructure work, the apartment buildings in Sydney and Melbourne. We’ve had investment in health across the country and investment in schools. I think that’s helped a lot of architecture practices. Generally, I think construction would be one of the better performing industries in Australia.”

Bristow expects this to continue, with the caveat that there will still be skills shortages in the years ahead. “Australia’s population is growing. We are seeing oversees and interstate migration, which is driving residential (building). Obviously, we’re at the whim of each economic cycle and that does affect construction, but on the whole the long-term prognosis for the industry is good.”

Location has a big influence on outlook, notes Bristow, with Sydney and Melbourne still where the construction industry is dominant.

“Then it would be Queensland and a particular hotspot is Tasmania, which is in the midst of a construction boom.”

In other key findings, the 2019-20 Hays Salary Guide found:

  • 67 percent of organisations offer flexible salary packaging. Of these, the most common benefit is salary sacrifice, offered by 55 percent of employers to all employees. This is followed by above mandatory superannuation (offered by 37 percent of employers to all their employees), parking (33 percent), bonuses (27 percent) and private health insurance (26 percent)
  • of the benefits offered to a select few employees, private expenses tops the list, with 70 percent of employers offering it to a hand-picked number of employees
  • 68percentof employers said business activity had increased over the past year, with 70percentexpecting it to increase in the next 12 months
  • 47 percent intend to increase permanent staff levels over the coming year
  • 70 percent say skill shortages will impact the effective operation of their business or department in either a significant (28 percent) or minor (42 percent) way, up from 67 percent last year
  • 54 percent of employers are restructuring to keep up with changing business needs – the key driver of these restructures is a change in the required skill sets, and
  • in skill short areas, 57 percent of employers would consider employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas candidate.

Image: 123RF’s khunaspix © 123RF.com

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