SALARIES OF £75,000 are being offered to engineers in their early 30s as the industry struggles to cope with a massive shortage of project managers.
NCE has learnt that such stellar salaries are the only way that major contracting organisations are filling the void in capable project managers and that consultants could be set to follow.
Senior industry figures have warned that the hiatus of graduate engineers into other sectors in the late 1990s has led to a gaping shortage of 28 to 35year-old engineers with project experience.
'This pool of people is a problem, ' says Balfour Beatty engineering managing director Andrew McNaughton. 'We are all chasing the same people.' McNaughton added that Balfour Beatty is resisting offering such high salaries.
Scott Wilson chairman Geoff French said that such salaries are not inconceivable in consulting.
'Our skills problems are much more at project management level. There are a lot of big jobs around and a finite number of skills, ' he said.
'As long as they are capable of delivering projects on time and on budget then [the project managers] are probably worth the £75,000.
'If the right person came to us, then maybe.' Arup chairman of global infrastructure David Singleton agreed that the shortage of project managers was now acute and could even force the firm to alter its business model.
'We get the graduates - 300 plus a year. But that's not the challenge. It's the middle range - the late 20s to mid-30s with project experience - where recruitment is challenging, ' he said.