This guest blog post is written by Simon Owen following a discussion online between ourselves and Christine Townley of the Construction Youth Trust. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the issue, and of course your offers of help.
The built environment is an industry that attracts passionate people; where else could a creative soul have a canvass that influences so many people for so long?
For every reason there is to enter the industry there is at least one not to, which is not going to help address the long-term concern about skill shortages. These can only be exacerbated by the long-term lack of entry-level opportunities and the growing voice of disillusionment from people within the sector.
Certainly, the skills gap that existed in the busy times has not gone away, just ceased to be prominent. Will the industry regret letting significant numbers of trainees and junior staff go at the start of the recession, and not creating the opportunities for them to train during it when those busy times return?
Either way, we will see this years graduates join those from the last three years to compete with experienced staff displaced from their roles for the few positions that offer training and opportunity to learn the craft of building design.
Unfortunately, the new Graduates will not have an easy time themselves, while their presence reduces the chances of those from previous years of securing these roles due to following factors:
- Design and IT skills as well as technical knowledge blunted by lack of opportunity to practice.
- Cost of/lack of access to opportunities to stay current with legislation, trends and software updates.
How to help New Graduates
A simple idea to address this is for a top up course with a placement combined to be created specifically for this group; universities and/or colleges could compile a syllabus covering changes in thinking, legislation and software over the last 2 to 3 years to be delivered on an online/webinar basis. Software providers could allow use of time-limited versions of their packages to people on the course enabling them to gain the same exposure as more recent graduates. The placement would then enable the student to put those skills in to practice in a live environment.
It all sounds very easy, and of course there are questions; would employers and professional bodies recognise it? Would any education provider be interested in taking part? Is it technically viable/practical for a software company to give access to their packages in this way?
There are bigger questions to answer though…
- How will it be funded?
- Who will provide the placements; how will they be organised and who would look after the students taking part?
At this point I’ll step back and put those questions to the floor… You’re reading this post so you must be interested in the subject and having come this far, I assume you have thoughts on the issue. Everyone has spent long enough saying it is about time that someone did something. As no one knows at which point anyone should act and what that act should be I’m asking, why not this and why not now?
I’ll go first; I’m not the person to coordinate all of this to make it happen, but I am a Recruitment Consultant who has been recruiting within building design and engineering for the last 13 years and I can create a section about finding work, interviewing skills and CV writing to contribute.
Over to you
As someone who has read this, whether you are an interested party, educator, software house, practice owner or philanthropist; what do think and what will you contribute?
Comments on Twitter:
What can you do to save the next generation of Architectural professionals?
Storified by Su Butcher · Thu, Apr 26 2012 04:12:39