After a significant lull, architecture firms in Victoria are set to start hiring again as building activity picks up, a recent survey suggests.
Conducted by Aspect Personnel, the most recent PACE survey confirms the past year has been challenging for architects, with almost as many firms having reduced headcount (33 percent) as having increased staff numbers (37 percent) and 83 per cent saying they had experienced no difficulty at all in sourcing technical professionals.
Going forward, however, 58 per cent of firms expect business activity to increase this year while only seven per cent expect activity to decrease, and 47 per cent expect staff numbers to rise over the next 12 months whereas only nine per cent expect a decline.
Furthermore, higher levels of work are expected to flow through into remuneration rates, albeit with salary increases set to remain relatively modest.
Around Australia, demand for architects has been subdued over recent years as work dried up especially in the commercial sector amid tight financing conditions following the global financial crisis.
Now, however, demand for residential work is red-hot in some markets whilst signs of a modest recovery in commercial building are increasing. BIS Shrapnel, for instance, put underlying demand for office space in Australia at around 370,000 square metres in the June quarter – well below 10-year averages of 660,000 square metres but higher than at the same time last year – a phenomenon which is underpinning a gradual return to confidence within the market.
Outside of hiring activity, the PACE survey noted that:
- Women accounted for 32 per cent of the architecture workforce, although technical and managerial roles were predominately held by male employees whereas women accounted for 42 per cent of support staff
- The average firm employed 23 people, with almost half (47 per cent) employing fewer than 10
- 92 per cent of employees were permanent staff, with technical roles being the most common in which to hire contract staff
- 96 per cent of staff were full-time, with support staff being the most likely area in which part timers were employed (18 per cent of staff)
- 76 per cent of firms did not have an in-house human relations team
- 60 per cent of firms conducted performance reviews every 12 months and a further 27 per cent did them every six months
- Professional experience was the most important factor in hiring decisions followed by cultural fit and attitude, with academic qualifications and presentation being of lower importance
- Mobile phones were the most common forms of vehicle/equipment/training given to managerial staff whilst external training was the most common for technical and support staff.