QSs have seen their international earnings fall the most. In Spain and France salaries have tumbled up to 28% for QSs, while in Thailand earnings have fallen by a fifth and those in Hong Kong a massive 50%. Project managers and engineers are also not earning as much as last year, although their salaries have slipped by smaller amounts.
Raj Sharma, senior manager at Hays International, says the increasing use of the internet as a recruitment tool is to blame. "Using the web gives companies a wider choice of who to recruit, which means salaries are being driven down," he says. Sharma also says that international companies are making more use of joint ventures with local firms, so there are fewer expat packages on offer. "The reduction in the number of these packages on offer has really hit average salaries," he says.
However, the survey's researchers say British know-how is still sought after. Continental firms are eager to learn from Britain's experience with PFI project management. They also value the specialised skills of British cost consultant, which is not a separate profession in any other European country.
Demand for British trained professionals is also strong in the Caribbean, where the market for hotels continues to expand along with the need for infrastructure projects to support the tourist industry. But here, too, salaries are less buoyant than last year. A project manager can expect up to earn up to £42,000 rather than the £50,000 earned by top professionals last year.
Salaries have taken the greatest hammering in the Far East, where countries are still reeling from the recession that took hold in the late 1990s. Salaries have slipped by as much as £10,000 in Thailand as companies have sought to lower costs. Nevertheless, as Sharma says, "The best in the industry are in demand everywhere."