Will the LA profession emerge from the great recession stronger or weaker?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Will the LA profession emerge from the great recession stronger or weaker?

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    Jay Smith

    This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. While many people are suggesting the profession is going through some permanent changes, I have to wonder if the recession may actually benefit the field in terms of the worker-to-job opening ratio. With many LA’s unable to find work, it only seems logical that we will permanently lose a certain percentage of workers to other fields. And I can only imagine the hit college enrollment is taking right now for potential LA’s who are either passing on LA in favor of more secure careers or switching majors altogether. While the effects of a worker shortage may not be felt for a few years, it seems like a very real possibility, assuming new development recovers over the next few years.

    What do you think? Wishful thinking?


    I just read an EXCELLENT article in BusinessWeek on the ‘Lost Generation’ in America. The article particularly focuses on those unemployed under 30 and the long term impact on the individuals and the national economy. The article calls on government to provide more aid for unemployed young people for additional education, internship opps , etc. I’ll try to scan it soon and post it here.

    I didn’t realize until I read the article that Japan has been struggling with this issue sonce the mid 90’s. Evidently a large portion of Japanese citizens under 35 work as contract or temporary workers, frequently switching jobs. The article doesnt go into depth on the cause, but explains that senior executives may be most at blame. They argue that the youth are transient and do not have the experience necessary. The younger generation argues that it is a viscious cycle stemming from high unemployment during the onset of their careers.

    Even if the economy recovers to a pre-existing state there will CERTAINLY be many who have left the profession either short term or for good. I’ve contemplated other careers recently.

    Unfortunately for many of us trying to weather the crisis I think there will still be an increasing number of new graduates in LA. I think it’s becomeing a ‘hot’ career and getting more exposure to career-switchers and the environmentally conscious. I actually wouldnt be surprised if more people were enrolling in LA programs than historically. People conject things about stimulus money and alternative energy as if it somehow directly affects landscape architecture jobs. I know some stimulus money is going toward public works projects that LA’s are involved with, but from what I’ve seen you A) better off going into civil engineering if this is the owrk you want to be involved with and B) those rfp meetings are PACKED. Like others have said, there just isnt enough work to go around.

    I think many of us were hoping the big wig design firms would reach out and expand the profession, if nothing more, out of necessity for new work, but I’m not sure this is happening or going to happen this way. The situation seems more similar to natural selection in that some will leave and some will stay.

    Addison Pritchard

    I’m not sure and often have been wondering if the profession will come out stronger or weaker myself. As a student (3rd year LA) I have seen a growing almost balloon like of enrollment in the LA field, since my 1st year I have witnessed through friends and going to conferences programs with larger than average student numbers in different parts of the country.

    The issue I see is a number of students who truly just want to own their own landscaping company and really have no desire to work in the broader aspects of LA such as land planning or large scale development. Whether this makes the profession weaker or stronger? I’m not sure yet. However, with greater interest in Landscape Architecture I think a lot of work will get done to create sustainable living practices as common tasks for everyday life. Which we all know is a good thing in the end.

    Daryn Fair

    The economy is in a state that of change. This forces companies to re-evaluate their market position and strategy moving forward. Living through the great recession will build character. At the same time, it is also a great opportunity to find areas or niches within the LA profession to shine. Some will leave the profession and find ways to use their skills to adapt to new careers. I would expect a percentage to come back and find their journey was merely a bridge job to fill in the gap. Others will expand the profession by reaching out to new areas. And some will become more educated and focused with their current position. The more we reach out as a profession, the more the opportunities we will have to grow the profession and make a difference.

    As an LA in job transition, I am finding companies are more focused on their hiring needs and skills than ever before. Why is this so great? This allows people to find new careers, not jobs to take them into the next chapter in their life. This means LA’s and others will be more passionate and involved with their profession and they will have a stronger desire to make a difference. This also means that LA’s that are under employed have an opportunity to explore and develop personally. As a result, the profession will have more recognition and grow! As an LA, you have the opportunity to play a large part in the changing culture.

    The profession is seeing growth and we are becoming recognized as professionals leading the path in sustainable practice. Opportunities are found in government (local, state and federal), university, corporate, private practice, multi-disciplinary firms, design build companies and an increasing amount of non-for-profit groups.

    Of the above listed, the largest current employer is the government. Smaller companies seem to be holding steady and/or growing in new areas by expanding services. Larger companies seem to be getting hit hardest in the great recession and are reducing their force; hiring change managers. Larger companies competing for the same work smaller companies are going after. And more companies have transitioned to public projects; creating more competition – less work available.

    A benefit from larger company work force reductions are newly created start-up companies in the Architecture, Engineering and Landscape Architecture fields. Thus, another opportunity for LA’s. One can provide additional services to engineering and architecture companies.

    The economic trends and indicators show solid growth for LA’s in the coming year with some intermediate growth finishing 2009. This is the time of year when companies’ project next years needs as well. With government regulations uncertain, it makes it difficult for companies to plan. The better companies will be ready. Others will realize a shortage in help and need to hire LA’s on staff or LA consulting firms. Either way it is a win-win, and patience will be needed for greatest results.

    The Landscape Architect’s profession is committed to continuing education, personal and professional well being and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. We value the environment and embrace the principles of sound sustainable planning and design.

    If the above seems like gobble, gobble. Think of yourself as a kid when mom turned off the television; did you just sit there and do nothing? No, you dove into another activity to keep busy; finding new opportunities. The future is yours and the great recession is a time for great changes.

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