without question, the last 3-4 years have been ruthlessly unkind to many recent graduates and interns in traditional practice. my own alma mater, for which i'm on an alumni advisory board, was tracking about a 15% employment rate for one of the recent graduating classes (now, to be fair, this was employment 'in the field' and they don't have tracking information on everyone. but, it's not like there's 85% employment out there).
but what's more difficult to grasp is how quickly the situation is changing on the other end of the scale - senior project managers and principals who are being laid off, sometimes en-masse. i've met with too many just in atlanta - people over 40 (and some well over 50) who've been let go for a variety of reasons. for a principal, it could be that they were no longer bringing in the project revenue and their cohorts simply wanted to protect the overall profit streams (and bonuses) they rely on themselves. but the one trend that truly has me baffled is why so many top notch firms are letting go their senior managers and project architects. yes, their salaries are going to be higher. and, yes, i suppose if you look at how many specialized projects that require their skills may be coming into the office, there could be an argument that younger "hungrier" staff could take their place.
but, quite often, these are the people that made their firms "that firm" in terms of the overall quality and design direction. jettisoning them is, well, potentially cutting your nose to spite your face.
the hopeful side to me: there's a ton of talent out there - hopefully it will stay in the traditional practice arena. hopefully some younger firms (like ours) will be able to help leverage some of it as we look to grow ourselves. and maybe, just maybe, some of that talent will spread their own wings just as their prime years get started. there's way too much potential to waste it serving fries...
Central to the blog is a long running interest in how we construct practices that enable and promote the kind of work we are all most interested in. From how firms are run, structured, and constructed, the main focus will be on exploring, expanding and demystifying how firms operate. I’ll be interviewing different practices – from startups to nationally recognized firms, bringing to print at least one a month. Our focus will be connecting Archinect readers with the business of practice.