SEEK Employment Trends: Industry spotlight on design and architecture

As the urban population continues to grow across Australia’s major centres, architects and designers will play a crucial role in shaping the quality of life in our cities. The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows job ads for the industry are on the rise and experts say creative talent is in high demand.

The design and architecture industry experienced a 7% increase in job ads in November compared to the same time last year and the average advertised salary was $82,800. Scott Cloak, Principal Consultant at recruitment firm Design and Construct, says the industry is busier than ever. “I’ve worked in the industry since 1986 – first as an architect and now as a recruiter – and I’ve never seen it busier than it is right now,” he says.

Cloak points to a strong correlation between Australia’s burgeoning construction industry and the increasing demand for design and architecture talent. “There’s a growth in multi-residential work, especially in Sydney and Melbourne,” he says. “There are also some big infrastructure and urban regeneration projects. Sites like Barangaroo in Sydney have created a strong need for architecture and design talent.”

A demand for urban design

Urban design plays a key role in shaping the quality and performance of our cities. As their populations continue to grow, open green spaces will become increasingly vital and public infrastructure will enhance urban life.

Many of Australia’s local city councils are engaging designers and architects to tackle the challenges of the future. Randwick City Council, for example, recently invited leading architects and urban designers from around the world to develop a vision for two of its town centres as a means of reinvigorating Sydney’s inner east. Meanwhile, four of Melbourne’s famous laneways will be undergoing a green makeover in the months ahead with living green walls, planter boxes and seating to make them even more inviting places to visit.

The increased focus on the quality of our city centres may explain the growth in job ads for urban design and planning, which were up by 63% year-on-year. Landscape architecture also saw an increase of 25% compared to the same time last year. “There is a strong link between the demand for landscape architects and the number of infrastructure projects underway in major cities,” explains Cloak.

Job ads for architectural drafting roles were also up by 19%. “We tend to think of these roles as the foot soldiers of the team,” says Cloak. “They are not running the projects and they’re not dealing with clients, but they’re the ones drawing up the plans.”

While job ads for interior design roles were down by 3%, Cloak notes that demand for candidates in this area remains strong. “We haven’t seen a decline in these roles,” he says.

Experience counts

Thihoa Gill, Human Resources Manager with leading Australian design studio NH Architecture, says recruiting key roles can be challenging in current market conditions. “The buoyancy in the market shows there are lots of positions that are tricky to fill, such as all-round architects with at least six year's experience and the ability to manage projects from concept to construction, as well as the ability to document throughout the process,” she explains.

NH Architecture employs approximately 100 people in its Melbourne office and is responsible for award-winning designs such as the transformation of Margaret Court Arena, the design of the Melbourne Convention Centre (along with design partner Woods Bagot) and the creation of Melbourne’s QV urban village.

Gill says the industry needs to be more competitive in attracting the best talent. “While there is plenty of opportunity in the industry, I find a lot of all-round architects who are thinking of embracing a new journey often stumble in the process because their current employer will counter the offer with things such as a salary increase or additional benefits,” she explains. “This creates a situation where new employees become stuck between staying at their current job with additional benefits, and exploring new opportunities to grow and expand. This is where we need to be more competitive if we are to source and attract new talent. It’s also where a positive interviewing process is essential.”

Cloak adds that design and architecture candidates are attracted to companies that offer career development opportunities and competitive salaries. “Flexibility is also important,” he says. “These days, and particularly in this market, people will leave inflexible employers and go elsewhere.”

As the growing population presents new challenges for our urban environments, the design and architecture industry will continue to play a vital role in shaping the cities of the future. “We’re seeing growth in demand right across the industry,” says Cloak. “I don’t seeing it slowing down any time soon.”
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SEEK is the destination of choice for job-seekers and hirers in Australia, acting as the conduit between hirers looking to fill vacant roles and candidates looking for work across many and varied industries. SEEK's mission is to help people...

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