AEC Professional Development: Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing Industry
The AEC industry is currently facing a number of major changes, making professional development more critical than ever. Luiza Mills, Senior Vice President at Interstate Electrical Service, and a member of the Construction Institute's education committee, shared her insights on the challenges and opportunities facing AEC professionals today.
Tori Muscara asked, “What are some of the biggest challenges that AEC professionals are facing in terms of professional development?”
Mills: “The industry is in the phases of some monumental evolution with many things hitting all within a window of time such as COVID, Supply Chain Issues, Rising Costs, Labor Shortages, Consolidation, and throw in Current Economic Conditions/Relapse. Although this is daunting, we can’t become discouraged on needing, now more than ever, to power ahead. We need to find new ways to continue to build on the AEC platform. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. That is what is so great about the industry, it survives and evolves and then in most instances comes back stronger.”
Muscara: “How can we encourage AEC professionals to continue learning and developing their skills?”
Mills: “We need to help them understand that they can’t keep doing the same thing, especially with the fast changes and challenges being faced. By encouraging people to stay informed, stay current, and step into this evolution of the new way of doing things, we can hopefully support people and continue to empower them, even if a little at a time. Therefore, we need to flip the conversation when reaching out, with a focus on taking steps where we see opportunities such as in technological advances. We need to find areas of education where we can continue to impact the challenges and turn them into opportunities and help in areas and topics where some might be afraid to approach, such as AI. Build them a platform of knowledge and resources so they can embrace what the next steps are.
Muscara: “What are your personal goals for professional development?”
Mills: “My personal goals are to never stop evolving, embrace new technology and ideas, and never stop learning or looking for ways to better enhance things even if a small percentage at a time. Nothing should be viewed as perfect but rather – is it still relevant, impactful, and efficient? In addition, continuing to listen and support new avenues of mentoring and training for future generations so they may have more opportunities to come into the trades and succeed in the industry.”
The AEC industry is predicted to experience growth in the upcoming years despite the challenges it faces. This growth can be attributed to several factors, including the expected population growth of 2 billion people by 2050, which will create a demand for new housing, infrastructure, and other built environments. Urbanization is also on the rise, which is driving the demand for new commercial and residential buildings. Additionally, there is an increasing demand for sustainable buildings and infrastructure, creating opportunities for AEC firms.
Muscara: “What are your thoughts on the future of the AEC industry?”
Mills: “The future is still bright! The industry can’t stop and won’t. Technology, AI, Prefabrication, Automation, Robotics, Repurposing of spaces, Energy Efficiency, etc. will continue to be at the forefront. In addition, modifications to regulations will help support the change needed, while funding issues, lack of resources, labor changes, etc. will continue to force the change that is required.”
Lastly, we asked Luiza Mills to share her advice with young AEC professionals who are just starting out in the industry. Mills offers this feedback:
“You selected an amazing career in which you will not only impact the world to make it a better place, but you will experience every step of that journey and get to see the end results of the foundation you are setting for future generations yet to come. The best advice is never to stop learning, embrace new means and methods even if at your own pace, and keep evolving. Don’t fear change as an obstacle, but rather as evolution.”
In addition to the above, Luiza Mills also emphasized the importance of networking and building relationships with other AEC professionals. This can help you learn about new opportunities, stay up-to-date on the latest trends, and find mentors who can support your professional development.
The AEC industry is facing a number of challenges, but it is also full of opportunities for those who are willing to learn and adapt. By collaborating with educational institutions and networking with other professionals, AEC professionals can develop the skills they need to succeed in the future.
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