August 23, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Murray State University
Design Engineering Technology
Bryant Harrison: Design Engineers should be able to think creatively and be prepared to use software to solve problems. Students who have acquired certifications in design software have shown some level of aptitude toward using that software to create and design engineering solutions.
Bryant Harrison: Engineers are constantly working with a variety of people on a project. These people could be other engineers in the same department or other departments, managers, stakeholders, and customers. The ability to communicate both on a technical and non-technical level with these people is likely the most important soft skill for a design engineer.
Bryant Harrison: Designing, prototyping, testing, and iterating are likely the most important skills for a design engineer. This is what we strive to teach at Murray State in our Design Engineering Technology program. Many sub-skills would fall into these categories, such as CAD, design for manufacturing, 3D printing, and destructive/non-destructive testing.
Bryant Harrison: We constantly tell students that they must have the full package of hard and soft skills to succeed. Those students who master their soft skills and are constantly expanding hard skills will be the most capable of getting the pay they seek.
Philip Horton: I think there will be a few enduring impacts.
One impact is that there has been a bit of a slow down in the market for a number of firms, due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. But an imminent stimulus package will hopefully provide a fairly quick course correction there.
More enduring is that much of the professional world has learned to work remotely -- at-scale -- over the last year. So how we work and collaborate on projects will continue to transform beyond the pandemic.
Also, public spaces, offices, restaurants, and retail have all been impacted by the pandemic. Many have made tactical changes to the designs of their physical environments and to their services. These responses, and uncertainty about future public health concerns, will change the way we design spaces and services going forward.
Philip Horton: Interdisciplinarity is key. Here at ASU, we are focusing on "architecture plus..." An emerging professional who wants to better understand financing and development should consider getting their professionally accredited architecture degree, plus a degree or certificate in real estate development. The same could be said for architecture plus construction management, public health, sustainability, urban planning, and more. We believe this will not only help position an emerging professional for a job, but position them to advance and transform the future of professional practice.
Philip Horton: Like a lot of fields, salaries in architecture had been stagnant for years following the 2008 Great Recession. But like a lot of fields, salaries were rising remarkably in the years running up to the pandemic. And in spite of some of the economic uncertainty of the past year, it appears that salaries will continue to steadily rise as we move forward from this pandemic.