Canadian Consulting Engineer

Consulting engineers poised for a good year

If the survey results from ACEC's 1999 Business Survey of Members are an indication, 2000 should be a very good year for many in the industry. In total, 57% rated the general business climate in Canad...

March 1, 2000   Canadian Consulting Engineer

If the survey results from ACEC’s 1999 Business Survey of Members are an indication, 2000 should be a very good year for many in the industry. In total, 57% rated the general business climate in Canada today as very good (11%) or good (46%), compared to 42% at this time last year.

When asked to translate their perception of the health of the economy into their own financial performance over the past year, well over half described their performance as very good (21%) or good (43%), which is a 9% increase from last year.

This general optimism in the industry is reflected by a 5% increase (53% versus 48%) in the number of respondents who expect to be increasing the size of their staff in 2000. And larger firms are more likely to hire new engineers in the coming year: 92% compared to 31% of medium and 54% of small firms.

Market buoyancy is also reflected by member concerns over the lack of available skilled labour. Almost two out of every three respondents identified this as a problem. When asked to list the skills needed by their company, members provided a wide range of disciplines. Topping the list were electrical engineers, design engineers and CAD operators.

The survey also confirmed that while most members have lots of work, the average size of contracts is small, industry margins remain very tight and not all parts of the country are benefiting equally. Members reported that 25% of all contracts were for $5,000 or less, and a further 27% were for dollar values of less than $25,000. When asked to provide their normal salary multiplier for work, the mean score for design services was 2.45.

Two-thirds of ACEC member firms also identified succession as a major issue within the industry, with over 50% mentioning market instability and anticipated low returns on investment for potential new partners as principal reasons for the succession problem.

A summary version of the 1999 Survey is available to non-members of ACEC at a cost of $69.95 + GST through the ACEC National Office.


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