Experienced engineers are paying for the salary explosion of recent graduates

A growing industry, high levels of activity and stiff competition for the best new graduates are combining to inflate entry-level salaries. “Experienced engineers are suffering for this,” according to Tekna representative at Norconsult, Harald Trosvik.

“It is a paradox that we are employed in an industry that has enjoyed high levels of activity and rising starting salaries for young engineers over the last decade, but that has seen no corresponding increase in salary levels for experienced engineers.”

“Engineers taken on by consulting engineering companies start on high salaries, but their pay rates rise at a slower pace than elsewhere in the private sector. If we compare the statistics compiled by the Association of Consulting Engineers (RIF) with Tekna’s salary statistics, we see that salary levels in the consulting engineering sector are developing more slowly than the curve for Tekna members in the private sector, and that the level after approximately seven years is lower than elsewhere in the private sector.”

Net salary rather than gross salary

Harald Trosvik has worked for Norconsult for 25 years and has been a shop steward for the Tekna group at the company since 2005. As an employee representative on the Board of Directors of Norconsult since 2009 he has in-depth knowledge of the way in which the company – which is owned 100 per cent by its employees – operates. Having worked in the industry for many years he also has an insight into the situation in other consulting engineering companies.

“Tekna’s salary statistics would be of greater value if more members responded,” says Trosvik, who often finds his employer arguing that insufficient numbers have replied to the survey. In recent years, the response rate has been around 60 per cent.

High starting salaries restrict pay growth

Harald Trosvik believes that an unfair imbalance is developing between pay levels for recent recruits and the salaries received by experienced engineers. Each year, large numbers of recently-qualified engineers are hired and the competition to recruit the brightest brains is stiff. RIF’s member companies now employ approximately 6000 engineers. This figure has doubled over the last 10 years.

RIF’s statistics show that starting salaries for recently-qualified engineers are high. “The industry has for very many years used high starting salaries as a means of attracting recent graduates and employers appear to have compensated for this by restricting pay growth for more experienced personnel,” argues Trosvik.

Growth offers scope for more

Trosvik is also critical of the fact that in one of the few sectors of the economy enjoying growth, salary increases are restricted to the level of competitive-sector trades. “There should be scope for higher levels of salary increase in growth periods during which the companies are performing well financially,” he says.

 

Text: Anne Grete Nordal

Modified date: Friday, December 15, 2017