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What The Future Holds: Industry Experts Weigh-In

By John Ritz

September 9, 2021 AIA, Community, Design, News, Team

What The Future Holds:   Industry Experts Weigh-In

Recently Knit’s, Michelle Duranleau, AIA (Left) and Victoria Cousino, AIA (Right) along with other AEC professionals were interviewed by the AEC Credential about the potential for a looming shortage of talent in the AEC industry, particular by women in the industry. You can check out the full article below.

The Credential | August 2021

By: Lexi Selvig

This month and next we’re talking with professional women practicing architecture, engineering, as well as skilled managers of major commercial construction projects about the potential for a looming shortage of talent in the industry. The spark for this topic was “Coffee with an Architect” a virtual event in January 2021 hosted by AIA Las Vegas, at which Eric Roberts, AIA, CEO of Knit said this is one of the most important issues firms are currently facing.

Eric encouraged “The Credential” to obtain input from women in the industry, who in 2020 made up only 16.5 percent of architecture and engineering professions as a whole and only 28.2 percent of architects, and a mere 10.9 of the construction industry according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of seven women lent an invaluable perspective. In fact, their responses were so thoughtful and engaging that we’ve made this a two-part series, featuring Part 1 this month and Part 2 next month. Their answers have been edited for brevity, but are still impactful.

Read on to learn what these professionals see trending in the industry when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

What do you see as the possible effects of a shortage of architects, engineers, landscape architects, and skilled/trained commercial construction tradespeople in the building industry at large?

I don’t see “lack of talent”; I see an evolution in the profession that we aren’t yet grasping. The profession is changing. As architects retire, we will lose experience and knowledge.  As younger people enter the profession, we’ll see a difference in tech, a different way to utilize tech, then a different way for us to live. We’re already living with evolution, a time when we are changing how we live, work and interact with one another. It’s stressful, but that’s because we are evolving.

Monica Gresser, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP | Principal/Citizen Architect

A shortage of design and construction professionals ultimately leads to rising costs to clients and bottlenecking in project scheduling. Project workload must be heaped upon already over-worked professinals, leading to longer hours and an increase in errors. Project costs will rise due to the service demand outweighing the manpower supply, discouraging many clients from building that next project. As design and construction professionals push to complete their increased workload, project backlogs begin to wane. Firms are soon presented with the decision to cut hours, wages or personnel, further exacerbating the potential for burnout. When that process is complete and equilibirum is achieved again, firms will often find themselves with one of two deficiencies: either being “top-heavy,” having retained their most seasoned professionals while letting go of their successors — the “doers” who are our profession’s future; or having retained their entry level staff with fewer mentors left to train them in professional practices.

Dawn Duranleau, AIA, LEED GA| Pre-Construction Manager

The way that NCARB has responded to this shortage is by truncating the path to licensure. — My fear is that there will be many errors made that would not occur if the proper amount of time was spent training prior to licensing people fresh out of college.

Michelle Duranleau, AIA, NCARB, LEED GA | Associate Principal

A shortage of architects will lead to a lack of leadership for the next generation. … As the current leaders begin to age and retire, they may not have a plan in place to fill their position. Without a plan for succession, many firms may go on to lose their “vision” or even to fold entirely.

Victoria Cousino, AIA, NCARB, WELL AP | Architect

How do you think the pandemic and college programs going virtual will affect the pipeline of new architects in the coming years?

Working in a studio setting during architecture school is crucial to developing the collaboration, design and communication skills required of architects. … As these students begin their careers there will be a certain amount of “catch up” that needs to be done to recoup the lost time.

Victoria Cousino, AIA, NCARB, WELL AP | Architect

I think that college programs going virtual provides a more accessible platform for a new generation to test the waters. It provides a flexible schedule, timeline, education experience and can result in newer outcomes never forseen before. A larger pool of students exploring the possibilities of being in the construction industry theoretically ought to result in an increase of graduates.

Marielle Lugay | Senior Cost Estimator

Describe an ideal talented professional.

Honest | Hard-Working | Intelligent | Passionate | Dedicated | Inspired | Training | Understanding | Creative Solutions | Driven | Community-Based Experience (Advocacy Or Activism) | Technical Drawing And Video Background | Willingness To Learn | Social Network | A Desire To Make Where We Live, Work And Play Better | Willing To Push Boundaries | Brave | Able To Learn New Things | Effervescent | Artistic | Communication | Leader | Teacher