The flow of young practitioners acquiring skills in building information modeling is shrinking, which may affect the industry for years to come. That decrease is one of the trends that is identified in a recently released survey report tracking the adoption of BIM in North America from 2007 through the fall of 2012.

The data is reported by McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics, a sister business unit of ENR.

The latest report, "The Business Value of BIM in North America," analyzes survey data—which was collected in August and September from 582 respondents—against data gathered from a similar, 2009 sample set, baselined against data from 2007. The 70-page report is available at for free download.

The data shows BIM taking hold, with 71% of architects, engineers, contractors and owners reporting engagement with BIM on projects, up from 28% in 2007. It also shows a surge of uptake by contractors but a leveling off of adoption by architects. Contractors, whose 49% engagement in 2009 trailed architects by 9%, now lead all firm types, at 74%, with architects 4% behind. Engineers, with BIM engagement in 2009 at about 25%, now clock in at 69%.

The report parses these numbers by discipline, skill level and degree of implementation, and then weighs users' engagement against their perceived return on investment (ROI). Overall, 67% of firms reporting "very high" BIM engagement claim "very positive" ROI, 37% claim "moderately positive," and 6% claim "negative or break-even." By contrast, 67% of firms with "low engagement" reported low ROI, but 20% still termed their ROI "very positive."

Users with five or more years of experience rose to 36% from 18% between 2009 to 2012, but the percentage of users with one or two years of experience dropped precipitously—9% from 22% and 13% from 26%, respectively. Analysts suggest the spread reflects accumulating experience of existing users; but the recent slowdown in design and construction activity means fewer new practitioners.