Construction and IT shrug off pandemic pressure on wages

18 Feb 2021

In our latest guest blog, Stephen Hoban, Director of Construction, Design & Engineering at Azon, discusses a new salary survey conducted by Azon Recruitment. 

A new salary survey by Azon Recruitment found that earnings for property, construction and IT workers went up as much as 5pc in 2020.

By contrast, office support salaries fell by as much as 12pc and industries such as banking saw temporary salary cuts of 10pc – with other staff in the most troubled industries sometimes faring much worse.

2020 was a year that accelerated underlying trends, over 80pc of our client base moved to working from home, there was increased virtualisation of business infrastructure in the cloud. Our clients have a renewed focus on securing the top talent to capitalise on the post-COVID bounce that will come.

At the start of 2020 we would have forecasted 6pc salary growth across the board. On average, salary levels remained static. Bonuses took the greatest hit for employee remuneration.

Thankfully, the tide of a decline in civil and infrastructure output looks to have turned as the Government approved a sizable stimulus package for 2021. This is not only a big boost for civil engineering contractors, but also the citizens of Ireland as we look set to see attention being turned to our roads and infrastructure in particular. Another big focus is recent Government sanctioned investment to tackle years of underinvestment in social housing, schools, and healthcare with the boost for employment in Construction to be significant in 2021.

While demand in Hotels, Office space, and specific areas of Retail has dampened, increased demand in other areas including Data Centres, Pharmaceuticals, and Residential Developments ensures that the Construction sector will continue to perform well in the year ahead.

Demand for Architectural professionals remained steady throughout 2020 due to a lack of Senior Architects within the industry, as well as the skills shortage in the areas of Revit and BIM. Employers have been looking to future-proof their businesses through the acquisition of talent with this expertise.

The growth in the Data Centre industry has led to a significant shortfall in available Design Engineers, with Data Centre design experience highly sought-after. The demand from M&E Contractors as well as Global Tech companies has led to further pressure on salaries within the market.

A shortfall in available talent was also been felt in Cost Management firms in 2020, where the demand for Quantity Surveyors remained constant throughout the year across all sectors. Quantity Surveyors with M&E experience particularly sought after due to the success story of Irish consultancies providing these services on Data Centres & Life Sciences projects, both domestically and internationally.

Sustainability will see growth across all parties involved in the Construction process:

from Developers through to Architectural practices, Design Consultancies and Contractors. Demand for commercial buildings to achieve BREEAM and LEED Certification will become the new normal.

Despite being hit by lockdown closures, the survey found construction was an industry that weathered the storm of 2020, with revenues only down 8pc year on year and it is expected to grow by 15pc in 2021: The construction industry workforce will need to grow in the coming years to tackle the National development plan and the housing shortage.

People turned to construction in 2020, viewing it as a more viable career. The pipeline of upcoming projects offers long-term prospects for the industry through these uncertain times, not just traditional on-site roles but in office-based positions like accounting, sales and marketing, legal and office support.

The importance of the EHS role has been amplified in recent years and will continue to be at the forefront of people’s minds in 2021, professionals had to quickly upskill and devise strategies and approaches to navigate a new challenge in 2020 with the global pandemic and will continue to do this moving forward. Employers were left in no doubt about the high and this will only go to further enhance the reputation of EHS functions in the year ahead.

Keeping a modern construction project moving safely with minimum risk is no mean feat. This has led to the EHS professionals becoming even more well-rounded and skilled. EHS professionals have to adapt constantly and keep their focus and energy up while being able to influence those around them.

We will see a steady hiring cycle within the construction sector with continued investment in EHS a prominent element within this.


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