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AEC is Broken. Novatr is Here to End Exploitation!

Shanaz Khan

12 min read

May 1, 2023


Table of Contents

Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. — Martin Luther King Jr.

Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Chaos?

In 2022, the global AEC market was reported to be worth a whopping USD 8.9 billion. It is expected to reach USD 16.5 billion by 2030. It contributed 6% to the global GDP, which is the equivalent of about USD 10 trillion in global GDP. These numbers are only expected to rise with growing urbanisation and increasing demand for high-quality, sustainable buildings and high-performing infrastructure.

This data paints a very bright picture for AEC’s future, doesn’t it? But there is a flip side to this success story. Let’s begin with a cursory Google search - “What is the problem with the architecture industry?”

Blog 4 images-02SERP for the query “problem with the architecture industry.”

Professionals in AEC share certain common traits with professionals like doctors, lawyers, software engineers, etc.—long working hours, aggressive deadlines, and poor work-life balance. But what makes architects and other AEC workers more dissatisfied and alienated than the latter is unfair compensation, a lack of opportunities for career advancement, and a general feeling of insecurity about their future in the industry. 

Data and research on the AEC industry reveal an unfair paradox: Its most valuable asset is the workforce - both the brain power behind the ideas and innovations and those who support the businesses delivering these innovations to the world. While the industry is prospering and getting richer, the majority of the workforce remains highly unhappy and dissatisfied with their jobs, with compensation being the least satisfying factor.

Also read: The Data that Drives Us

The “AEC Problem”

There are two facets to the AEC problem - education and employment. Both share the trait of being stuck with the same yesteryear tricks of the trade. Both are stuck with old methodologies, contributing to the ever-widening gap between available job opportunities and qualified talent. A smaller talent pool,  pandemic-driven churn, and overall burnout have only aggravated this problem.

1. Employment

AEC companies have failed to catch up with the fast-paced technological innovations and digitalization in the industry. It’s 2023 and most firms are still relying on Y2K superstar AutoCAD as their go-to software, compelling employees to use obsolete tech. They fail to take into consideration changing talent expectations and aspirations. 

Younger professionals today have different expectations and motivations than the older workforce. They value company culture, equal pay and opportunity, and work-life balance, much like their counterparts in other industries. They are also less tolerant of outdated technology and procedures. When these factors are coupled with long work hours, low pay, slow career growth, and a lack of opportunities or skills, it leads to higher churn.
Blog 4 images-03Talent leaves AEC firms due to dissatisfaction with management or a lack of cultural fit.

Historical and pop culture’s romanticised representations of an architect’s life and career further disillusion young professionals who step into the career with high expectations that are debunked on the very first day. They are stuck in a vicious cycle of using legacy tools and manually performing repetitive tasks that can be easily automated by leveraging new-age technologies.
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2. Education

Architecture education is in crisis. It is detached from the profession and what the real-world demands. Architecture and design schools need to update their curricula to incorporate the latest technologies, methodologies, and skills that are highly sought after and fairly compensated for. In the age of 3D printing, precasting, and digital fabrication, architecture students are still learning about labour-intensive construction techniques. 

Blog 4 images-05-1
Problems in the AEC Industry

Despite being the cornerstone of the global economy with many industries relying on its services, the AEC industry is plagued by various forms of exploitation that threaten the welfare of workers and the integrity of the sector as a whole. 

We started this article with Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, stressing the importance of change and progress. If the AEC industry intends to survive, retain its current talent, and inspire future talent, it HAS TO adapt to accommodate technological innovations and change. First, the industry as a community needs to acknowledge that AEC is indeed broken and then actively participate in finding solutions for fixing each crack. The future of AEC hinges on it!

The Beginning of the End of Exploitation  

In its current form, the AEC industry is a ticking time bomb waiting to implode. Stagnant tech adoption, minimal digitization, and exploitative work culture are leading to the creation of a growing pool of underpaid and alienated professionals. 

Fortunately, there is hope! Enter Novatr - A platform dedicated to filling the global innovation gap by harnessing the power of human potential, technology, and tech-first skills. 

For far too long, the AEC industry has suffered due to its resistance to grow and progress with the rest of the world. We are often taught to expect sweat, suffering, and self-sacrifice on our way to the top. This narrative of grinding through and enduring hardships has been ingrained in us, passed down from seniors who went through it themselves. But it's time to reject this narrative. Architects and engineers are tired of being exploited. We are creative and intellectual beings, the builders of tomorrow. We deserve a brilliant life, not just survival. This story hits close to home for us at Novatr, as we were lucky enough to find our way out of the exploitative cycle through hard work and imagination, and now we do incredible things with our lives. But our work doesn't stop there. We believe that if we have power, our responsibility is to empower others. Escaping exploitation was just the beginning. We won't stop until we've turned the AEC industry inside out, shaking it up and getting rid of the things that burden architects.  Blog 4 images-06

At Novatr, our mission is clear: to revolutionise how the industry operates, communicates, and innovates.

  • Leverage insider expertise: Novatr is uniquely positioned to influence the trajectory of the next big transformation in the AEC industry. Insider experience and skills enable us to leverage real-life knowledge, skills, and networks to pave a brilliant career path for you.
  • Take over the reins of your future: Our network of learners, industry leaders as mentors, creative, tech-first curriculums and inspiring hiring partners paves the way for you to take full control of how you envision your future.
  • Skyrocket your career growth: Get access to tools, technology, industry expertise, projects, mentors, and hiring partners necessary for the experience you need to grow. Thousands of learners have changed the course of their career growth with Novatr. 
  • Be a part of a global, community-led movement: Our vision is to create a community of AEC professionals who will become agents of change and help Novatr transform the industry by accelerating the adoption of new-age technologies that make building more efficient. Novatr is here to bring a paradigm shift in the way the industry operates and create a community of forward-thinking AEC professionals who learn and grow together, by harnessing the power of technology. 

Also read: From the SuperNovas’ Desk: What We're Excited To Do

It's time for the AEC industry to wake up, embrace innovation, and create a better working environment for its workforce. The survival and success of the AEC industry depend on it, and—we promise you—Novatr will be at the forefront of this transformative journey.


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