By 2020 the Fire Protection industry is estimated to be worth up to $98.24 billion, around double that of market value in 2015 ($47.96bn).
With every fast growing market it is inevitable a skills gap will emerge. Throughout Q3 and going in to Q4 companies involved with Fire Protection Engineering Consulting have struggled to source experienced specialists.
Why is there a drought in talent?
“One of the biggest challenges in 2016 has been staffing and this will not become any easier in 2017.”
One of the biggest challenges in 2016 has been staffing and it will continue into 2017. At LVI Associates we have seen companies struggling for experienced professionals across Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (MEP), Architectural Engineering (AE), and specialists in Fire Protection.
Fast industry growth is creating high demand for experienced professionals, highlighting the gap between those with 10+ years’ experience and entry level candidates; as fewer young professionals enter the market to bridge the growing demand.
Also, as many industries are seeing, there is a changing work environment between Generation X/Y and Millennials; who have disparities between expectations for long-term personal and professional goals. This type of shift effects hiring; where aligning organisation and candidate expectations can be more challenging, resulting in a much tougher hiring environment, in an already pressurised market.
Throughout 2016 the MEP sector has consolidated at record pace as more firms decided to sell, largely driven by an inability to engage millennials. As the number of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) increases in 2017, so too does the proliferation of smaller firms and start-ups, as employees disengaged by workplace changes look elsewhere. Organisations must look to build their competitive advantage with a strong brand reputation and pay close attention to their employee engagement strategy to retain staff.
The war for talent is back to that of almost pre-recession levels with candidates firmly in the driving seat. The biggest challenge firms are facing is; finding the right talent to take advantage of growing market demands as well as retaining the Millennial demographic. In order to find and retain talent with the right level of experience, companies have been seen increasing compensation, introducing incentive bonuses, and implementing generous training schemes, making this a highly competitive candidate driven market.
“You are going to have to pay more for talent than you did last year” (CSEMagazine). Sourcing top talent in this niche sector can be time-consuming, which is why more companies are increasingly using specialist recruitment agencies to secure the best candidates.
“You are going to have to pay more for talent than you did last year.”
Where are the jobs?
The growing demand for Fire Protection specialists is most prolific across the US and the Middle East, due to the sheer number of new construction investments.
In the Middle-East there have recently been a number of hotel and high-rise fires; drastically increasing the demand for more fire protection experts. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines such as NFPA 13 Installation of Sprinkler System; NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signalling Code; NFPA 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code; and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code have also been enhanced and adapted to the challenges faced by engineers in such a unique location.
Existing facilities now need to be upgraded to meet these standards, and with the number of large construction projects including; Qatar World Cup in 2020 – including five new stadiums – and a huge infrastructure project, worth more than $75 billion happening in Oman, the demand for experienced Fire Protection candidates will increase even more in 2017.
“North America is expected to be the major global player in the fire protection industry between 2016 and 2020.”
In the US, uncertainty within the political climate has made some companies hesitant to invest; however, the growth predicted across the region has not been dampened. Due to rising awareness and changes to government legislation, North America is expected to be the major global player in the fire protection industry between 2016 and 2020.
Politics aside, Trump’s presidency has in some cases been met positively by the US construction industry and the engineering design industry, by association. The potential changes to political plans means it is likely that there will be a marked uplift in demand for fire protection engineers and designers over the next five years.
Companies are now sourcing talent globally to meet the growing demand in both regions; while a number of US based candidates are also being lured to the Middle East by the attractive salaries and tax breaks offered.
What does the ideal candidate look like?
The need for experienced candidates is driven by the gap between the ageing workforce and the demand to deliver projects on schedule. At LVI Associates we are seeing a trend among hiring manager for candidate with between 6-12 years’ experience.
“The need for experienced candidates is driven by the gap between the ageing workforce and the demand to deliver projects on schedule.”
Broadly speaking, candidates in this sector can be split into two generalisation; designers and engineers. Engineers usually come from a more traditional engineering background, with a fire protection specialism at BEng or MEng level, as well as a Professional Engineering Licence, and several years’ industry experience working according to up-to-date legislation. Fire protection trained designers familiar with Revit design and other 3Dsoftware are in huge demand and with the exciting updates to REVIT in particular, this demand will only increase.
LVI Associates is the leading specialist recruitment agency for the infrastructure sector. We were born from the fusion of two existing companies—Laking Group and Viridium Associates who recruited for the oil and gas and renewable energy markets. While working for some of the largest energy companies in the world, we realised that we could transform more careers and support greater projects and companies by opening our services to the wider infrastructure market. More than the sum of our parts, today LVI Associates provides permanent, contract and multi-hire recruitment from our global hubs in Boston, London and Singapore. Contact us to find out more.