Image: From the Building Article: Low-Paid architect jobs: An offer you can refuse
The construction press is hyperventilating at the moment about an email that a London firm of Architects allegedly sent an unemployed ‘Part II architect’ (i.e. a part qualified masters level applicant). You can read the email on Building’s Website here and also in BD.
The articles I have read so far have focused on the outrage, the potential illegality and the loss of talent that may result from such practices as asking a highly qualified employee to work a 70 hour week for £400.
But I think there’s something more important at stake here, if we’re going to get rid of the long hours, low paid culture that has blighted our profession for so long. And it’s not to do with the employee either; it’s to do with the employer.
Here’s what I wrote in response to the building article:
I run a practice of architects that does not subscribe to the long working hours culture, but it is prevalent in the profession. I remember on graduating with Part I in 1989 (when the last recession was well on the way) I was offered a year out post in London which only paid travel expenses.
The reason why architects stoop to such crass and sometimes illegal tactics such as those set out above is that they are either 1) not in control of their finances or 2) willing to abuse empoyees.
As most architects in the UK are more poorly paid than most other construction professionals, I believe that the likely answer is 1).
If architects were able to
- identify the service they provide and the value of it;
- price it appropriately and negotiate a good deal;
- work efficiently and manage ‘mission creep’; and
- recover fees efficiently,
then they wouldn’t have to decend to abusing their employees like this.
Don’t blame the recession, look at what you can do to make more money.
Roland Millward says
It’s interesting that the advert to the left of this one is for a Dog Walker at £8 per hour. Says it all! Why bother with University, long hours of study, mounting student debt and then get offered minimum wage when all you do is be able to walk and pick up dog poo!
Daniel Tenner says
A thought – following your argument the thing that’s missing for the industry to change is twofold:
1) Architects must believe that it is possible for things to change
2) They need to know how to make them change, by improving the business-savviness of their practices
It sounds like your own practice runs efficiently. Perhaps it would be worth posting a series of articles explaining what your practice does differently from those which find themselves against the wall. That might help many budding architects to avoid making these mistakes and perpetuating the cycle of low-pay-long-hours…
Thats a good idea Daniel, though its not rocket science, just good business sense.
The guest bloggers on here are making a contribution, like Sean Sidney today, but I’d like to fill out some of the gaps too.
Mark Campbell says
The company I work have never advertised. The business has bee built over the years by word of mouth. The only reason they decided to have a website was simply because they thought they needed it just to say that they had got one. Even then there hasn’t been any coherent action to update it with new projects generating additional content. After we had not long completed a church into a beautiful home, I considered this to be an excellent opportunity to follow it up with a PR exercise. Would anybody having read this comment agree with that objective and any further suggestions that would help promote our company would be appreciated.
Felicity Waters says
its the same in australia and its the same in the landcape arch profession – I am sure its down to the hours spent on presentation dwgs – at least it was when I was working –
Alice Ngigi says
It’s all about saving.