Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in the AEC Industry 


Ryan Carver, licensed architect and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in the city of Charlotte, has been closely monitoring the dynamic trends within both the U.S. and Queen City markets. Ryan is sharing his insights on recruiting top talent and highlights how your firm can grow despite challenges in the multifamily labor market:

Today, the architectural, engineering, and construction industries face a unique challenge when it comes to hiring skilled labor. In the fall of 2023, the multifamily industry is struggling to meet its need for talented employees, with more positions than there are available candidates.

The landscape of hiring has changed over the years, especially since 2008, when we experienced “The Great Recession.” When the recession hit the United States, the multifamily industry lost an entire generation of architects. In response to uncertain times, architects shifted to hiring contract employees to minimize risk and cost while completing work without overextending their permanent workforce. This was a new approach within the industry, but it allowed for a type of flexibility for firms to hire on an “as needed” basis. The silver lining was that firms could tailor their project teams to the client, project, or talent needed at any given time. The contractor-style practice continued for almost 10 years and continues to be relevant in some cases. Due to the loss of an entire generation of architects, our industry is still struggling to fill certain roles, especially when seeking more experienced professionals to build teams around. This occurrence has translated into a vast shortage of skilled labor, and the statistics speak for themselves. Two million workers left the construction industry in search of other careers (ABC). As it relates to the construction industry, countless contractors struggled to find skilled labor for complex projects; the industry’s workforce was an issue.

In recent years, employee standards and expectations for work have shifted to prioritize competitive compensation, benefits, engagement, and the flexibility to work remotely. Companies are facing challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining talent in the context of these new standards.   Understandably, employers are working hard to meet these evolving expectations and, consequently, many businesses feel the impact of these changes. When it comes to recruitment strategies, employers are now seeking specific skillsets and actively considering candidates regardless of their current employment status. This includes prioritizing software proficiency in areas like Revit, diverse project exposure, and a variety of valuable “soft skills,” all of which streamline the vetting process.

To survive in this competitive market, employers must make important decisions about the future of their firm and the employees they bring aboard to remain successful. Our company has set itself apart in the industry through a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to the recruitment process. We prioritize skillset and character traits over resumes, taking a holistic approach to evaluate each candidate. This approach is reflected in our multifamily interview screening, social meetups with our team, and various networking opportunities for prospective hires. We place strong emphasis on promoting our values from within and investing in our team members, ensuring that each employee feels valued, challenged, and essential to the firm. We also provide unique opportunities to attract top talents, establish our presence in emerging markets, and create office environments that are functional and enjoyable

Overall, the multifamily industry is facing numerous employment challenges. Implementing the essential protocols and precautions required for success is a significant step toward the architectural industry landscape. Small firm operations vary from large firm affairs, and macro-issues like economics, war, supply chain issues, and more play a role in the stability of hiring in the multifamily industry. Employers must take steps to address these challenges if they want to remain competitive in the industry and successfully retain and attract top talent.

For further inquiries or to learn more about SGA|NW, a GF design company’s multifamily design services, please contact Ryan Carver, managing director of multifamily at SGA|NW, a GF design company, at or Danielle Barr, senior marketing manager at GF, at