Employers’ market leads to huge increase in temporary contracts

Martin Bennell

Martin Bennell, managing director of Frame Recruitment

Architects are accepting salary cuts of up to a fifth just to get a job, according to a specialist recruitment consultant.

They are also going for jobs at a lower level than their experience qualifies them for as the market shrinks in the face of the predicted recession.

“I just need to work and pay my bills is becoming an increasingly common theme in conversations,” said Martin Bennell, managing director of Frame Recruitment.

“We are seeing huge flexibility in salary requirements from candidates too. Candidates are taking 15-20% pay cuts to simply get a job. Unfortunately, we predict that this could get even more competitive as more redundancies are announced in the top positions.”

Competition for jobs has increased significantly, with online applications per job nearly 75% higher than this time last year.

This trend is putting employers in the driving seat, said Bennell.

“Practices are regaining their power,” he said. “The flexibility they have needed to make in the past few years is reversing quickly. The quality of the candidates in the market means that clients can dictate their needs with a prescriptive tick sheet of wants and they can get it all – for less money than they would have at the start of 2020.”

Practices are also under pressure, with some reportedly cutting fee bids by 20% in order to win work in a contracting market.

“Practices are under pressure to remain an attractive option to their clients and seek any competitive advantage they can in this current market,” said Bennell. “Practices will look to reduce operating costs, including employment.”

However he said many practices understood the importance of retaining their best staff and were bending over backwards to ensure their views were taken into consideration on when to return to the office.

“One told me, ‘Hang on to staff, not office space’ was their priority for the future,” he said.

The nature of jobs is also changing, with Frame reporting:

  • April: All jobs taken on were for permanent vacancies
  • May: 9% contract jobs, 91% permanent vacancies
  • June: 43% contract jobs, 57% permanent vacancies

However there was a glimmer of good news, with 10% of the jobs that were put on hold in March and April being reactivated by practices in June.

And after both vacancies and applications ground to a halt during lockdown as everyone waited to see what would happen, job applications shot up by 76% between May and June, said Bennell.

The sectors with most vacancies are residential “by far” followed by healthcare and mixed-use. He also reported a noticeable uptick in retail as fit-out projects begin, especially at the higher end.