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Growing Construction Industry Boosts Architecture and Engineering Hiring

Building construction site with large equipment and mounds of earth

As the economy continues to improve, pent-up demand for new residential and non-residential building is expected to increase demand in architecture and engineering (A&E) services. However, companies that neglect to pursue an aggressive hiring strategy may well find themselves without the talent resources they need to take full advantage.

Demand for talent on the rise

For firms offering A&E services, 2017 is poised to become a year of fairly significant growth, due to overall economic growth that has spurred an uptick in the construction industry. This growth is most evident in the commercial and institutional sectors, but residential construction is also predicted to rise, according to Edward Gruss Jr., director of divisional operations for Aerotek.

Although new construction generally drives the majority of projects, according to IBISWorld, remodeling and expansion efforts are also boosting demand for A&E talent. Architects are increasingly being contracted to address accessibility issues related to a greater need for in-home care among residential renovation trends as well as meeting higher energy-efficiency demands and designing renovations for existing homes to meet changes in aesthetics, according to a recent AIA report.

Government spending on infrastructure is also predicted to increase, notes Gruss. For instance, the recently passed Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN Act) is anticipated to spur construction activity on vital water projects across the country to restore watersheds, improve waterways and flood control, and improve drinking water infrastructure. Additional infrastructure spending proposed by the incoming administration will also serve to further push up demand.

Across the board, loosened constraints on credit access are freeing up more capital for building. New home construction is on the upswing, and although residential design and construction doesn’t have the same heavy talent demands as commercial/institutional, it competes for workers with same skillsets, such as drafters, designers and production-level architects and engineers. Companies already hard pressed to staff adequately will likely find this year especially challenging.

Talent is in short supply

Meanwhile, the talent pool supply in A&E continues to lag behind demand. The 2008 recession had a deeper impact on construction compared to other industries, and the industry didn’t begin to show signs of recovery until 2011. As a result, college students were steered to other technical careers like software development and cybersecurity instead of A&E. As the market improves, we can expect the competition for these workers to become even more heated.

The competition for A&E talent will be amplified by the skills gap created by workforce demographic changes, as baby boomers continue to retire at a much greater pace than graduates enter the field. And as the field becomes more and more technologically advanced, employers are increasingly focusing their recruitment efforts on employees who bring skills in 3D software and virtual reality (VR) modeling tools.

Flexibility to meet future challenges

Hiring managers will continue to face a substantial challenge in sourcing, hiring and retaining the best and the brightest talent for the foreseeable future. The most effective companies will have a plan that incorporates cutting-edge strategies and resources for staffing in a very competitive environment.

Working with a trusted recruiting partner who really understands their business can help them fulfill their short-and long-term talent needs by tapping a deep talent pipeline of all specialties, identifying the top candidates and following specialized onboarding processes that maximize a new employee’s opportunities for success. The increase in A&E business is great news for the industry and the economy in general. Strategic hiring practices put into place now can help yield beneficial results on the bottom line.