Career advancement was the main reason why staff resigned from planning, architecture, building and engineering firms over the past 12 months, the latest Pace Survey suggests.
The survey of more than 200 Victorian property and construction firms found 32 per cent of professional staff across the industry listed career advancement as the primary reason for resigning from their positions.
Firms continued to shed large numbers of staff through redundancies, Pace found.
More than half the engineering, architecture and construction companies surveyed had laid off staff during the past year.
Planning was the only sector where fewer than 50 per cent of firms experienced redundancies.
Construction firms shed the most staff - 77 per cent had downsized with 31 per cent losing between six and 20 employees.
A desire to be challenged was the driving force behind most people's decision to voluntarily change jobs, the survey's author, Matt Sampson, said.
"Career advancement is a strong motive for many in the planning, architectural and construction sectors," Sampson said.
"They are professionals looking for new challenges on a daily basis and if their current role doesn't provide this, they will certainly look elsewhere."
But most sectors were not struggling to recruit experienced staff either, the survey showed. Nearly nine out of 10 architecture firms said they had no difficulty attracting technical or support professionals.
Voluntary staff turnover over the past 12 months has been extremely low, with half the firms having no resignations.
The low levels of staff movement match the contraction in Victoria's construction sector.
But executives and managers are working long hours: 81 per cent in each category reported working more than 45 hours per week.
On the other end of the scale, a significant proportion of companies have had to pay higher salaries than expected to attract the right candidate.
The survey identified a surprising resilience and optimism across the sector.
Over the next 12 months, 37 per cent of companies expect business to increase, 49 per cent expect it to remain stable, while only 14 per cent expect it to decrease.