Here's the excellent slide deck from a presentation by Kermit Baker, Chief Economist at the American Institute of Architects, in a "collateral discussion" (whatever that is) held on March 4, 2012 (as posted online at aia.org). The main theme, as I see it: baby boomers holding on to jobs that young people desperately need to gain a foothold in the profession is bad, and you should feel bad about yourselves. I don't think Baker is blaming the baby boomers for the demographics they were born into, but this message did resonate with what I've seen among my younger peers in recent years.
As I look forward to graduating in May 2013, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about my immediate and long-term job prospects. It's been a tough few years for young architecture grads in the USA. Seeing the adventures of friends and fellow students as they start their own ventures, dive into competitions, and cultivate their own brands and side projects, I've felt inspired but also daunted. I'm reminded of a column by David Brooks at NYT.com from late April, in which he approvingly cited PayPal founder Peter Thiel's ideas about how to find success:
"Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it. The profit margins are much bigger, and the value to society is often bigger, too."
What do you think of Baker's analysis of the economic climate for architects? Does it reflect your own situation over the past few years? And second, do you think Thiel's bootstrap theory is sturdy enough to lift us all?
Thanks for reading!
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