By Sam Pearman, Lead Recruitment Consultant Buildings at ALLEN & YORK
Foreign investment, a domestic housing crisis and urban regeneration projects have all given the buildings sector a renewed focus and created a growing demand for talent across the industry.
At ALLEN & YORK our building recruitment team are currently focused on three main areas of growth within the sector; quantity surveying, construction project management and facilities management. Residential and commercial building construction, as well as rail, highways and energy infrastructure, are all demonstrating increased recruitment activity, and we are working with clients on some very exciting new build projects, as well as retrofit and building maintenance positions.
One of the reasons companies come to us to help them recruit is because technical professionals across these disciplines are hard to find and they need to tap into our specialist network. Equally we are always looking to increase our talent pool and encourage more professionals into the sector. By giving a brief overview of the career prospects in each of these three hotspots, we hope to show how diverse and rewarding the buildings jobs market can be.
Quantity Survey (QS) and cost consultancy is a highly responsible job; budget planning, keeping the project on target and delivering, with minimum overspend is extremely challenging on any construction project. As such the demand for experienced QS professionals is high and salaries are competitive.
The jobs market is predominately contract based, with more permanent positions at senior level and within the larger consultancies and construction companies. Universities offer degree courses across QS, cost consultancy and commercial management and entry into the industry is usually via an internship. Progress is can be swift and within 5-10 years a senior role is more than achievable.
The industry is well paid and it is not uncommon to retire at 45-50, this allows for quick progress for younger professionals, so for instance there is scope to become a director in your 30s and retire in your 50s.
Those of 50yrs+ often set up their own companies, move into property development or become FRICS / RICS APC Assessors. There are good prospects throughout your career journey and as recruitment demand increases this is more and more a ‘candidate lead’ market.
Salaries for Graduate / Internship / Apprenticeship start at around £25K, and at the other end of the scale at Associate Director/Director/Partner/Commercial Manager level you can command salaries from £65K up to £100K per annum. The jobs market is buoyant, but skills shortages are challenging the recruitment market.
Routes to construction project management are most commonly through a degree in civil or structural engineering. We also see project managers with a background in QS, FM or contracts management, however this is almost always backed-up by solid construction engineering experience. Site managers often progress to construction project managers, additionally, several universities now offer MSc courses in construction project management, which although not essential can give you added appeal to an employer.
Salaries across this sector are rewarding, with entry level between £25-30K and senior positions from £70K/£80K upwards. There is strong recruitment demand across the industry, particularly within Europe and the UK.
Career paths into facilities management can come from various different roots and typically include; procurement, contractor management and building/grounds maintenance.
Managing ‘soft services’; contactors, suppliers and on-site facilities and/or ‘hard services’ including the coordination of M&E engineers and infrastructure maintenance, are all part of the FM role. There are a wide range of qualifications and memberships available and accredited by BIFM from level 2 through to level 7. For a mid to senior level position, we would be looking for a BIFM level 4 diploma or above and IOSH would be a minimum requirement; progressing to NEBOSH certificate or diploma over time.
Project management qualifications are also desirable, such as; Prince2 and APM Project Management (PMQ). Career progression will then correspond to experience, for instance; size of facility/estate managed, size and budget of project, industry experience and qualifications. The jobs market is steady at present, with the expectation for growth through 2018/19.
Finally, it is worth noting the rise of BIM and 4D modelling. Augmented reality programmes and the use of drones to map buildings are revolutionising the built environment sector and attracting tech-design professionals and ex-game designers to the industry. Within the past 2-3 years we have seen a steady rise in the demand for BIM modellers and 3D/4D technicians. Initially within our global clients (the USA were early adopters) and now we are seeing more of a demand across UK based companies.
Salaries within construction modelling are often more competitive than in other sectors such as game design; According to Prospects graduate careers a typical starting salary for an animator in online games development is around £19K-£25K while in construction they are closer to £23K-£28K.
As you can see there is lots of scope for career development within the buildings and infrastructure sector and skills shortages ensure a degree of reassurance for job seekers.