With £2bn of work Robert Smith of Hays Construction & Property on the abundant work and good wages to be had in the South Coast's honeypot

Not many cities offer the chance to combine work on Frank Gehry's latest flight of fancy with bracing sea air and a one-hour train trip to London. And with skills shortages in a number of professions, a move to Brighton might not be such a bad decision …

What's going on?

Plenty. There is £2bn of work either under way or in the pipeline, including Gehry's £200m King Alfred Leisure Centre, a 7500-seat multipurpose arena in Brighton marina, the 22,000-seat Falmer Community Stadium for Brighton & Hove Albion FC, and the redevelopment of the Brighton Centre. The New England Quarter in Brighton's station area is also being developed: Adenstar, an established local contractor, is overseeing the £40m of shell-and-core work for 500 Barratt flats here, as well as retail units and enabling works.

Good for …

The region is seeing a particularly high demand for building and general practice surveyors. In addition, there is a strong demand for architects with construction and technical knowledge - in particular, technicians with between five and 10 years' experience. Many local companies also have vacancies for quantity surveyors, particularly those with more than five years' experience in main contracting. And, of course, high demand means higher salaries.

Bad for …

The downside of this high demand, particularly for skilled architects, is that many employees are being stretched to their limits, which has affected deadlines and general morale. One Hays client recently reported working 19 days in a row to meet his workload.

Significantly, the shortages aren't as prevalent for site managers, project managers and contracts managers. For example, a recent contracts manager position was filled within 10 days of the consultant receiving the brief. The candidate that was appointed was previously a project manager who had more than 20 years' experience in the industry.

How much would I get paid?

Employers have begun to recognise that there is a severe skills shortage and as a result, salaries in Sussex are soaring with employers fighting to keep hold of their skilled senior employees. This has particularly true for architects and quantity surveyors. According to Hays consultants in the area, this has led to salary increases of about 5-10% for these positions.

As a broad indication of employment trends, here are two positions that Hays recently filled:

  • A design-and-build manager with 25 years' experience received a package of £50,000 with benefits.
  • An electrical associate with seven years' experience at associate level received a salary of more than £50,000, as well as a generous employment package.

How far would my salary go?

  • A pint of locally brewed Harvey’s best: £2.50
  • A ticket to a Seagulls home game: £21
  • Average property price: £214,250