The biggest increases are for those at the start of their careers: the dearth of graduates means that assistant quantity surveyors' pay rose a whopping 12.3% last year. It's not just the pay gap between young and old that's narrowing: regional divides are shrinking too, with pay stagnating in central London but shooting up elsewhere.
The reason that the workforce has hit paydirt is the most basic law of economics: supply and demand. The skills shortage means supply is low, and demand is racing ahead: construction turnover increased a healthy 4.4% last year, after growth of 8.1% the year before. It's not quite the Californian goldrush of 1849, but the industry is winning work at a heady rate, largely thanks to the government's infrastructure spending spree.
Firms are paying over the odds for juniors because it is cheaper than getting a senior person
Ian Walton, Hays Montrose South-east
"The market's busier than it's ever been, and there's a huge demand for all roles at all levels," says Akash Marwaha, Hays Montrose's area manager for the west of Scotland. "There's certainly a skills shortage in most areas, coupled with bigger developments, and that's reflected in the salaries." He cites Glasgow harbour as an example: "The old shipyard is being rebuilt into luxury penthouses."
Marwaha says junior quantity surveyors are particularly in demand: a few years ago there were 80 or 90 people a year graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an honours degree in quantity surveying, but the figure has dropped to 30 or 40. As a result, a 22-year-old QS in Scotland can now expect to earn £22,000, compared with £18,500 last year and £16,000 the year before. That represents an increase of one-third in two years. Although there were smaller increases in other regions, the national average of 12.3% in the past year shows that young QSs are highly sought-after across Britain.
Another factor increasing the demand for QSs is their expanding role in the project team. "Lots of companies are incorporating the buying function into surveying – for example, by getting QSs to handle subcontracting," says Marwaha. With QSs sourcing labour, materials and plant – traditionally the buyer's role – there is less of a demand for buyers.
- Average pay rises outstrip inflation for all job categories
- Assistant QSs lead the field with the national average salary increasing 12.3%
- The most dramatic increases are in the East Midlands, with site agents’ pay rising by more than 25%
- Central London is experiencing the slowest growth in pay, with just five of 12 categories seeing increases
- Across the UK, salaries grew faster this year than last for 10 out of 12 categories.