Survey: AEC firms 'stymied' by shortage of experienced professionals

Dive Brief:

  • The lack of experienced professionals and project managers is creating a hiring crisis for "stymied" architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms in the U.S., a Building Design + Construction survey found. 
  • The respondents — 133 C-suite executives and human resources directors at AEC firms — reported the most difficult category to fill as professionals with 6-10 years experience, at 24.2%, followed by professionals with more than 10 years experience, at 17.1%, and project managers, at 16.3%.
  • More than half of respondents (54.6%) said they agreed with the statement, "It's taking us longer than ever to fill positions for qualified AEC professionals." And one in six respondents (16.3%) reported that their company had to delay or completely turn down a project due to their inability to find qualified people to manage the project.

Dive Insight:

The shortage of qualified construction employees has affected more than just hourly craft workers, as 52% of firms in the Associated General Contractors of America's survey this summer reported difficulty filling salaried professional positions.

The recession that rocked the construction and homebuilding industries spurred a mass exodus of workers at all levels, and companies are struggling to bring those workers back. With the survey results, BD&C asked, "Has the AEC industry lost another generation of professionals, as it did during the 1992 recession?"

Respondents in the survey suggested a greater focus on recruitment efforts, a more open approach to new tactics to find the best talent, and the addition of better benefits packages as possible solutions to the talent crisis. 

"There are not many young people entering the profession, and there is an extreme lack of talented people in the 10+ years' level of experience," a survey respondent said. "We have no problem hiring college graduates, but keeping them after five years is difficult, and then we start over with a new hire."

The labor shortage has also brought the lack of diversity at the AEC management level into the spotlight. With retention problems exacerbating the current dearth of qualified laborers and professionals, the lack of diversity reaches more than just moral questions, as experts say it is holding back companies from higher profits.

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