Strong Economy Continues to Drive Architecture Hiring & Retention

empty office with desks and chairs

Buoyed by the strong economy, the $45 billion architecture industry has achieved estimated annualized growth of 5.6 percent in each of the past five years, according to IBISWorld.

Looking ahead, in the five years to 2022, “[architecture] industry operators will continue to benefit from improvements in downstream construction markets. The volume of construction projects will increase as access to credit becomes more readily available and the value of construction continues to grow. Industry revenue is expected to grow by an annualized rate of 3.0 percent to $52.0 billion during the five-year period. Further, industry operators will look to offer more value-added and environmentally friendly services as the level of competition grows.”

Growth in the industry has also spurred increases in hiring. According to the recent Deltek Clarity Architectural and Engineering (A&E) Industry Study, firms reported continued increases in staffing, with average staff growth doubling to 6.9 percent in 2017 from 3.5 percent the prior year.

Firms are struggling to accommodate the growth, the study continues. “Lack of available talent remains the #1 challenge firms face in talent acquisition. With talent at a premium, candidates can afford to be choosy, demand more and take their time selecting their next opportunity.”

Recruitment demands continue to challenge

Ed Gruss, director of divisional operations for Aerotek, agrees. “As we’re seeing in a number of industries, supply is not keeping up with demand for talent in architecture. “This is true across all skill sets and experience levels, but especially so at the production level,” he continues. “For a lot of companies, finding qualified candidates and quickly filling positions is one of the biggest challenges they have.

Because of this, he says, “We’re starting to see wages rise in response, which means that employers are going to have to match the market rate in order to lure top talent. On top of that, they need to make sure they’re offering a competitive overall package of compensation, benefits and intangible incentives,” he notes.

What do candidates want?

What kind of incentives? According to Natalia Dudek, an Aerotek divisional practice lead who specializes in recruiting architects, in-demand candidates are primarily looking for higher salaries as well as:

  • Better work-life balance
  • More paid days off
  • Option to work from home

At the same time, she notes, they’re looking for a measure of challenge and innovation. “They don’t want to be pigeonholed and made to do the same thing over and over again,” she says.

Retaining top talent

“Since firms are having such a hard time finding qualified candidates, firms are focused on engaging and retaining existing staff more than ever before,” continues the study. Some of the same factors also impact retention, such as increasing employee morale, offering adequate work/ life balance help keep the best and brightest employees. “Firms acknowledge they need to evolve their workplaces to include more professional development, build morale and create attractive work environments.”

Coaching and mentoring can yield benefits far beyond the short-term, Gruss says. In addition to facilitating crucial knowledge transfer, it also can create a leadership pipeline.

For recruiters, it’s all part of the package. “We find the people who are hard to find,” says Gruss. “And we have an eye toward retention right off the bat. Job candidates don’t delete their LinkedIn profile just because they get a job. The work world is more interconnected than ever, and the best candidates have access to an abundance of opportunities.

Want to learn more about recruiting and retaining top architecture talent? Contact Aerotek now.