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Skills Shortage Causing Architectural Damage

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Experts warn that a lack of BIM experienced architectural candidates could potentially bring UK construction sector to a stand still.

Architecture recruitment specialist, Matthew Gilchrist, of Peace Recruitment, is warning construction firms across the UK that action needs to be taken now to help combat the skills shortage currently threatening to engulf the architecture industry.

He is warning that a lack of suitable Building Information Modelling (BIM) experienced architectural candidates could potentially bring some construction projects to a halt unless action is taken now. This is a particular problem for the public sector, where it is now compulsory for companies to use BIM in the design process after the government invested over £15 million recently.

According to Gilchrist, who was recently voted the top recruitment consultant in Scotland, this problem is being caused by the majority of construction firms only thinking in the short-term. Instead of planning ahead they are only interested in looking for architectural candidates when they specifically require them, and then are shocked when none are immediately available.

Gilchrist explains: “There are very few candidates with relevant BIM experience available to the market, this is a fact. So construction companies need to find other ways to bridge this skills shortage. How can they do this? The simple answer is to invest now.  Invest in training for both new and existing employees and reward BIM experienced employees both financially and professionally.

“From what I am seeing the majority of firms are being reactive instead of proactive when it comes to hiring architectural employees. Companies are still being cautious in terms of recruitment due to the previous recession, instead of looking at the bigger picture and planning ahead. This is causing a shortage in BIM experienced candidates, and this problem will only intensify if companies don’t take responsibility now.

“Construction firms need to start investing in architectural employees. Whether that’s training up existing employees, or hiring non-BIM experienced candidates and training them. It’s vital they start to see the bigger picture and take one step backwards to take two steps forward if you like. There are lots of very talented architectural candidates out there without BIM experience, so firms need to lower their expectations and utilise these people. I know it is expensive to invest in training, but firms don’t really have another choice. It may cost them money now, but how much value will it add in the future?

“It is also vital that companies look after existing employees, as anyone with BIM experience is in such high demand they could walk into another job tomorrow. So it’s essential to make them feel valued, whether that’s having annual salary reviews, bonuses, or career progression opportunities. Firms also have to plan in case they lose their BIM experience, this could be due to them being headhunted or leaving for health or personal reasons. How can the work be completed if there is no one there with the skills or experience to undertake it?”

Gilchrist adds: “I am not scaremongering just for the sake of it, this is exactly what I am seeing in the market. If action is not taken now, projects could be held up because there are no BIM experienced candidates available. What impact does that have on the practice?  Deadlines not being met?  Cost implications?  Reputations on the line?”

BIM is a process that involves creating and using an intelligent 3D model to inform and communicate project decisions.

Matthew Gilchrist is a specialist in architecture at Peace Recruitment. He was recently voted the best recruitment consultant in Scotland by s1 Jobs. Matthew’s award win comes on the back of 89% of his placements still being in the job he placed them in over a year later.

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