According to a rash of recent articles that might be the case. When the housing market burst in 2008 many architects found themselves out of a job as firms, both large and small, closed their doors or laid off a majority of their workforce. In addition, recent architecture graduate students found the prospective of even a low paying internship daunting, with many exiting the industry within months of graduating.
For those architects who decided to stick it out and weather the economic storm, the last four years have been an uphill battle. Projects have been sparse and far between and many older architects, who younger architects considered their mentors and teachers, decided to “retire early” to avoid the effects of a failing economy. Many industry insiders believe the combination has left a large hole in the growth of the architecture profession, both by the numbers and in terms of skills and experience. Unfortunately, the negative effects may be felt by the industry as early as 2014.
According to a recent survey of 1,007 U.S. designers, conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction, “found that nearly one-quarter of respondents anticipated a shortage of architects.” Furthermore, of the firms surveyed, “ both large (more than 50 employees) and small (less than 10) anticipated some kind of shortage of designers, but nearly half of respondents from larger firms expect it to be severe.”
And the anticipated shortage won’t be a problem for just designers, but also for the laborers and builders. As the housing market begins to revive itself in many regions across the country, builders are starting to talk about the looming labor shortage, which for many is already here. In a recent Housing Zone article, the author, a building developer, talks about the shortages he is hearing about in many cities in Texas, as well as Nashville and Charlotte. Similar to the design industry, the few workers that have remained don’t possess the experience, knowledge and skills their predecessors did, which makes for a very uncertain and shaky future.
As design firms and builders begin to rebuild their firms, win larger projects, and grow their workforce, it will be essential for them to market themselves as the workplace of choice. Although no one can predict what the next few years will hold, what we do know is that the industry landscape is changing, drastically. Being flexible and thinking strategically are essential concepts for architecture firms and builders to embrace now in order to attract top talent and prosper in the years ahead.