By 2014, architecture firms in the United States won’t have enough qualified designers to meet their workloads. That’s according to a survey by McGraw-Hill Construction, as reported by William Hanley in Architectural Record.
The survey of 1,007 U.S. designers found that nearly one-quarter of respondents anticipated a shortage of architects resulting from a combination of designers exiting the profession, baby boomers retiring, a lack of skills among architects looking for work, and less talent in the pipeline as job prospects discourage students from entering the field. Firms 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.
In light of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) survey that revealed architecture firms lost 40 percent of revenue and more than 28 percent of staff during the recession, the news is not a shock, but it is worrisome. The most recent Architectural Billings Index, however, showed minor positive growth despite a huge drop in construction spending, from $1 trillion in 2008 to just under $800 million in 2012.
What do these ups and downs mean? Taking a break from this leftover recession porn to look around architecture offices, it means less architects are doing more work on lower quality, less profitable projects. Combined with the brain drain, the picture of the profession in coming years is grim.
“Architecture firms need to think strategically,” said Bernstein (vice president of industry insight and alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction). “Not only about how to draw talented professionals to their firms, but also about how they will attract more architects to the profession.”