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How AECO Companies Can Reduce Employee Turnover by Altering Their Hiring Methods


6 min read

December 12, 2022


Table of Contents

The AECO industry employs over 7.5 million people globally. This makes it one of the largest employment sectors in the world, second only to agriculture. However, despite the large talent pool, two problems plague the industry: employee attrition, and a lack of skilled employees.

In this article, we’re going to delve into the current scenario in the hiring front of AECO and what firms can do to reduce employee attrition, acquire worthy talent and retain it.

Employee Attrition in AECO: Why Does It Occur?

New hires, on average, consist of around 21 per cent of an AEC firm at any given time, according to a study conducted by Zweig in 2021. According to the same study, around 62 per cent of AEC firms are looking to actively hire.  Despite a clearly large demand, rates of employee attrition within AEC are increasingly skyrocketing.

Why is this happening?

With the rise in demand of workflows such as BIM (Building Information Modelling), the AEC industry finds itself in a strange position: it needs to adapt to BIM, but at the same time, due to the newness of BIM, there is a severe shortage of established processes to hire skilled BIM talent.

Once a BIM hire is made, firms often find themselves faced with a series of new challenges. 

Short Term Association

Many new hires join a company specifically to learn more about industry processes, and leverage this knowledge to apply for higher paying positions in the future. They do not intend to have a long term association with the firm. While this may make sense to the employee, it is an immensely resource draining process for the firm. They are affected by this turnover not only financially, but also in terms of company morale. The investment in training and cultivating a new BIM employee goes to waste. 

Work Dissatisfaction

Once done with their training period, and beginning work in full force; a lot of employees find themselves dissatisfied with the kind of role they are supposed to play in projects Additionally, stunted growth in the organisation and a lack of adequate pay further accentuates their problems with the role. 

Misinterpretation of BIM Roles 

Due to the fresh and novel nature of BIM, a misinterpretation of the roles and responsibilities a BIM Modeler or a BIM Coordinator undertakes is common. New recruits find themselves joining a position excitedly, only to realise a few months later that they do not enjoy the nature of work and wish to change their role. 

How Can an AECO Firm Minimise Employee Turnover?

Adapting to BIM is going to be a burning necessity for most firms in the coming years, according to a study published by McKinsey in 2020. The benefits of BIM are considerable, and increasingly, it is the go-to career path for many young AEC professionals. Broadly, however, the problems AEC firms face in BIM recruiting can be attributed to lack of expertise and knowledge in hiring for BIM, leading to poor hiring decisions and low employee retention.

According to Harvard Business School, 80 per cent of employee turnover occurs due to bad hiring decisions. This brings us to a significant question: how can AECO firms develop long lasting systems to attract top BIM talent that are fully invested in making a career in the BIM industry, and will not waver in their decision?

Companies would greatly benefit from gaining a deep understanding of a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and skill sets (hard skills and soft skills) well before the candidate is hired. It is important to know whether the applicant is a good fit in the company or not.

Here are some ways in which this can be ensured: 

Intensive Testing

Firms should conduct a thorough skill assessment of a candidate before hiring them through rigorous testing. These tests ought to be conducted in a written format, as well as a subsequent verbal assessment. 

Reaching Out to References

An opinion on the candidate’s abilities and personality from a former employer would help firms make a much more informed hiring decision. The increasing trend of misleading CVs also necessitates this. On paper, someone may be an ideal hire, but this may not pan out as expected once the candidate begins work. 

Hire From Experts

As mentioned previously, the novel nature of BIM and its fast growth in the industry in the last few years has made hiring a tricky challenge for most AECO firms. A lack of experience in BIM hiring makes this challenge all the more difficult. In this situation, companies would greatly benefit by hiring from third party resources that specialise in training candidates in BIM, developing unique courses that address industry requirements  and facilitating hiring. 

Novatr’s BIM Professional Graduates: A Ready Pool of Skilled Candidates

Novatr’s BIM Professional Course enables its students to master 7+ BIM software, taught by world renowned experts working in top AEC firms. To ensure practical experience before joining the workforce, our candidates develop a live, RIBA structured Capstone Project with the Enzyme group in Hong Kong. These graduates are already deeply invested in making a career in the BIM industry, and are specifically enrolled in the course as it allows them to do so.

By facilitating hiring for its BIM graduates, Novatr aims to bridge the digital divide in the AEC industry, and lead it to a new era of seamless and integrated digitisation. The experts at Novatr thought deeply about the hiring problems in the AEC industry, and devised a unique solution: skill mapping.

Skill Mapping at Novatr: What is It?

A rounded view of the candidate in terms of hard skills such as software mastery, problem solving and ideating as well as soft skills such as communication is essential. Novatr’s RIBA structured Capstone Project provides the perfect opportunity for mentors to score candidates on all the parameters they would encounter while working in the industry.

The Skill Mapping Report is available to all hiring partners in the Novatr ecosystem during the placement season. A sample report includes the parameters described in the image below, and much more.

The Technical Skills section of Oneistox’s intricate Skill Mapping system

The Soft Skills section of Oneistox’s intricate Skill Mapping system


A good hire is essential to a thriving company. A good BIM hire can truly elevate an AECO firm to the next level: bringing it on par with internationally renowned firms. The first step is skillful hiring, determined by a holistic approach that takes into account the candidate’s full profile: including their personality, their hard and soft skills and their career goals.

Novatr’s BIM Professional Course aims to enhance the talent pool in the BIM industry, by providing highly qualified BIM professionals to AEC Partners at zero cost. Our cohort based, 6 month BIM Professional Course is designed to make candidates job-ready. In order to access this immensely talented pool of BIM Professionals, head over to our Hire From Us page.

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