As we've noted before, knowledge of computers, tradecraft skills, and project experience creates a unique situation for those of us who are VDC professionals: There's a perpetual shortage of BIM people, the work is important, and it's often a specialized role. All of these factors mean that those who start to specialize in VDC don't often reintegrate into typical project management roles. How do you encourage career growth for those in VDC departments? Here are three suggestions:

1. Clearly Define Five-Year Plans

For construction professionals who do not specialize in VDC, there’s a very clearly defined career progression. However, executives must continually define the five-year plan for their VDC staff members. There is no given assumption.

2. Consider Organizational Changes

Many companies have made significant structural changes to their VDC departments to encourage VDC career progression. Some firms minimize the size of their VDC departments and make VDC a skill that all project management staff must learn (this is becoming more common with general contractors but is challenging with subcontractors, where there are more modeling staff members). Other firms have a defined career progression in VDC all the way up to the vice president level.

3. Create Opportunities for Learning

VDC professionals are highly specialized staff members and opportunities for education, such as Autodesk University and the global RTC events, are critical to continued learning and networking, and a simple break from the continuous stream of a VDC workload.

Keeping VDC professionals engaged and making sure their roles are clearly defined helps to alleviate stagnancy and encourages growth. And happy employees make productive employees.