Aurex Insights: Navigating the Demand for BIM Capabilities

February 2020

Navigating the Demand for BIM Capabilities

Welcome to Aurex Group’s first insight into the Architecture and Design industry for 2020. Each quarter, our specialist team will be bringing their expertise to a critical topic impacting the market. For this inaugural issue, the spotlight is being shone on Building Information Modelling, better known as BIM, and how its evolution over the last decade is impacting demand for professionals across Asia.

Collaborative Tech on the Rise

Back in the early 2000s, a handful of technical firms started talking about a new concept in Asia, a ‘digital solution’ to streamline the construction process. As a consultant and advisor to the built environment sector, we sought opinions across the industry to understand what this new technology was all about.

From the outset, there was excitement but also reservation. In a world of terminologies, acronyms and ideas, confusion was created. Being told it was a software, only suitable for certain parts of the construction process, BIM was labelled impractical by some, that it would never work. With time, the term ‘BIM’, or Building Information Modelling more formally, became a main stayer in conversations within traditional design and engineering circles, but its adoption still lagged.

That was over a decade ago. As we enter into 2020, how has Asia, and more specifically Hong Kong, adapted to this virtual design and construction technology?

Proactive Steps in Hong Kong

In Asia, Hong Kong has been pushing alongside China and Singapore to become the market leaders in BIM adoption and usage. The government of Hong Kong, for one, has taken heed that technology needs to play a leading role in the future construction of the city. Several mandates have been issued since 2018 citing that public works now require a certain level of BIM integration.

Major projects working with key local groups like Hong Kong Airport Authority, West Kowloon Cultural District, MTR Corporation, and most recently CLP Group, require partners to have capabilities in BIM.

The Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) has grown in membership, reaching close to 2000 members as they celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. The group’s aim is to help and improve the adoption of BIM to the architectural, engineering and construction industry.

Last year, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) also followed suit by announcing they would be formalising a recognised certification for BIM professionals who were working in the industry or experienced in working on live projects.

As a result, there have been significant expansions of internal BIM and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC)

Hong Kong International Airport’s Third Runway expansion has committed to using BIM to deliver the project.

teams within architectural studios, contractors, consultants and developers as the need for digital experience increases.

However, one major issue for the industry has not changed in the last decade. The talent pool is shallow, globally.

What the Market is Saying

Our team gained greater insight into the current market perception and adoption of BIM by speaking with professionals who have helped to drive the industry to where it is today in Hong Kong. Here’s what they had to say.

BIM Manager - Technical Architecture Firm

A decade ago, BIM was seen as a tool only utilised in the West, the UK and USA, for example. Now all government projects over HK$30 million in Hong Kong require BIM. There are still challenges with adoption, the link between design softwares being one of them, however, greater demand should inevitably drive further development.

BIM Coordinator Design and Build Firm

Historically there has been a lack of BIM focused opportunities.

Over the past ten years, there has been increasing demand for experienced talent and I am now able to find opportunities that suit my skillset. The lack of workforce remains the biggest challenge, we struggle to build a small team and this will take time for the industry to resolve.

BIM Lead Engineering Consultancy

There has been greater willingness to integrate BIM over the last two years thanks to the government’s initiatives and the known benefits of using the technology. To overcome future challenges, we still need high-level BIM talent to push the industry further and develop national standards, as well as provide further education on BIM, keeping in mind it is an enabling tool, not a software.

Tips for Candidates

To navigate these changing times in the market, our specialist team has outlined the top three tips for candidates considering a move within the BIM and VDC profession.

1. Confirm that a new role is in line with your expectations

New job titles and increased salaries can be attractive; however, we have witnessed candidates move for these offers without thoroughly understanding the job description and expectations. Know where you stand in your career and what you are looking for. Make sure you interview your prospective future employer.

2. Make sure your views are aligned with your manager

If you and your manager are not going in the same direction, your position can be dificult. Through the interview process, prepare well and discuss the role, present and future.

3. Investigate how serious your employer, current or future, is about digitalisation

To work successfully in the BIM or VDC space requires the buy-in of the business, not just an isolated handful of people. Ask about the work your employer has done and what they are aspiring to achieve. How has BIM adoption affected their business and what return or future investments do they plan to make?

Tips for Employers

For employers in this market, retaining talent and ensuring consistency and productivity within the team are some of the biggest challenges. Here are our insights for overcoming these hurdles while the market navigates the talent gap.

1. Listen, manage expectation and follow up

Feedback from professionals in the market, ranging from modellers to Department Heads, has carried a similar message. Isolation, unfulfilled promises and being sidelined has been an issue for BIM and VDC candidates. While delays and changing business needs are inevitable, honest communication and follow up are vital to retaining professionals in this evolving profession.

2. Attracting & rewarding

A trend we have witnessed is demand for BIM capability being far greater than the talent available, resulting in significant remuneration growth for inexperienced candidates encouraged to change jobs for salary at the expense of quality BIM and VDC delivery. Our experience shows that the best talent on the market – technically capable professionals who are actively involved in furthering the industry – often are not the most expensive. Key to securing this kind of talent is a clear commitment to adopting digital construction methodologies and a platform for them to grow with the industry.

For employers in this market, retaining talent and ensuring consistency and productivity within the team are some of the biggest challenges. Here are our insights for overcoming these hurdles while the market navigates the talent gap.

Aurex Group Architecture & Design Team

Oliver Li

Principal Consultant

 

Ben Watt

Managing Director

Greater China

Katie Ng

Principal Consultant

 

Joey-Anna Leung

Research Associate

 

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