There haven’t exactly been many winners over the past year or so. The pandemic has thwarted plans at every turn – across every industry and not just architecture. Our attention has been turned towards the work undertaken by keyworkers, and unquestionably rightly so. The architecture industry has also played an important role, however. The adaptation of healthcare buildings has drastically minimised levels of contact. Similarly, the reshuffling of hospitality settings has meant that they might continue to operate, albeit at reduced capacity in many cases.
Such concerted efforts, however, have meant that architects on the entry-level of the field have had their opportunities come to an all but complete standstill. Employment and work experience opportunities – which are so keenly contested at the best of times – have become a rarity, with firms seguing from a mind-set attuned to growth, to one (understandably) predicated on simply surviving as a business. Supporting the next generation of architects and architectural technicians is something that we’re passionate about here at Munday + Cramer. We wanted to look at the ways in which we can support younger industry professionals – both now, and moving forward.
Making Mental Health a Priority
It’s fair to say that architecture has, traditionally at least, been amongst the more pressurised industries. For young architects and technicians to be entering that arena amidst a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic event – in which the younger generations have arguably been disproportionately affected – and you’re presented with something of a perfect storm. This has led to genuine (and wholly justified) concern for the mental health and wellbeing of these young professionals.
It’s critical, therefore, that the mental wellbeing of all employees (but particularly firms’ younger team members) is made a priority over – not just the coming weeks and months – but indefinitely. Practically speaking, this looks like keeping a closer eye on workload management, project expectations and how their experience at the firm is going, more generally. With mental health having become something of a ‘buzz phrase’ over the past few years, many companies talk a good talk when it comes to employee wellbeing, without ever practising what they preach. Don’t be one of those firms.
Offering More Varied Routes Into the Industry
Historically, architecture has been held up as a prestige industry, one in which access was granted by a good degree from a well-regarded university. Nowadays, though, this thankfully isn’t the case. Degree apprenticeships, for instance, are a relatively new qualification route which enable to study for their qualification, whilst simultaneously gaining employment experience at a practice.
With many graduates who’ve been rejected from job opportunities recently having cited a lack of industry experience as the primary cause, degree apprenticeships offer a viable route to help avoid what is a potentially vicious cycle. As a firm, we’ve had great success going down the degree apprenticeship route, with some of our most successful new team members having gone down that particular avenue.
A Practice That Provides
As beneficial as options such as the degree apprenticeship are, there’s still always that slight disconnect between education provider and employer. Increasingly, though, architecture practices are looking to address that divide by themselves turning provider. Such set-ups take ‘learning on the job’ to the next level, and might well be the future of training, particularly for roles such as architectural technicians, which are so hands-on.
Reviewing Workplace Standards
With a damning open letter (with almost one thousand signatories) being sent to RIBA by young architects and technicians earlier this year, regarding unpaid overtime, it’s become all too apparent that there exists within architecture – to use the letter’s own phrasing – “a culture of exploitation”. Thankfully, we’re proud not to have any such practises in place here at Munday + Cramer, however it’s a note to firms more broadly that they should review standards across the workplace, and ensure that younger, newer recruits aren’t being exploited or taken advantage of.
So, if you’d like to find out more about how our practice (which offers not just architectural services, but surveying, FM, PM and bid application support, too) currently supports – and how it will continue to support – its young recruits, then get in touch! Contact Munday + Cramer today on 01245 326 200 or by emailing email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.