Where Are the Next Generation of Component Designers Going to Come From?

For those of you out there looking to hire a component designer for your company, you probably know by now that they are extremely hard to come by. Over 60% of the component manufacturers in the United States closed up shop, due to the recession. The lucky ones that made it through the downturn cut back to stay alive.

When the industry scaled back in 2007, a lot of good designers were forced to leave the industry, never to return. A lot of jobs just vanished. These unfortunate folks still had families to feed, recession or not. Others retired. The question becomes: Where are the next generation of component designers going to come from? This is a question many component manufacturers have been asking for years. And you know what? They have never received an answer!

What do we do to correct this issue? Where can a component designer go to learn the necessary skills to produce at a high level, while minimizing the cost associated with a new hire?

  1. The SBCA offers “Truss Technician Training
    1. Do designers seek out this elite certification?
    2. Does the component manufacturer require this elite certification?
    3. Will this help component manufacturer decide who to make a job offer to?
  2. The component manufacturer itself offers its own training program
    1. A custom-tailored program is offered to new team members
    2. On-the-job training is provided
  3. There is no option #3! Why?

why

The problem with these 2 methods should be obvious: The costs of both are coming off the component manufacturer’s bottom line. The designer does not take enough ownership in it, because there is little, if any, investment on their part.

What’s the alternative? Well there is indeed, monster and numerous other job search websites. The designers that are still out there willing to relocate are:

  1. Demanding top-dollar
  2. Are being represented by a high-priced recruiter
  3. Both

The problem with this method is that you really don’t know what you are getting until you have invested a bunch of money and made a commitment. In past years, this was the commonly accepted method. But is it now?

Anyone can interview well and have an appealing resume. How many times have you brought a new designer on board, spent thousands of dollars on training and relocation, only to have them not work out? Or worse, they jump ship to your competitor for 50 cents and hour. Are you willing to continue to repeat this mistake? Albert Einstein defined insanity as “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. In this industry, you need to try something different. But what?

In years past, it was common for people to learn a trade by serving as an apprentice. If one wished to learn a trade different from that of one’s family, a professional was paid by the young person or the youth’s family to teach him. Today, people expect their employer to invest in them. Why the paradigms shift? Why does the individual not feel the need to invest in themselves anymore? More importantly, why has this been accepted?

With the future in design right around the corner, what this industry needs are certified designers. BIM is a reality, whether you want to admit it or not. Other countries are using it now. Why is the United States slow to get on board? The reasons are numerous:

  1. BIM is an unknown acronym, with no real meaning
  2. Resistance to change
  3. Lack of qualified designers
  4. It is not required by the municipalities
  5. What is BIM again?

For those working with federal contracts, LEED, green building or high-end commercial buildings, BIM is usually a requirement. Why is this not the case with residential design?

Component designers need a place to go to school and gain an authentic certification – one that they pay for. Would you let a doctor operate on you that did not have a degree? Would you send your child to school with teachers that have no educational background? Why should building design be any different?

Gould Design, Inc. has been spending tens of thousands of dollars every year on Professional Development of its staff. In fact, the budget for 2013 is well over 6 figures. Why? Because we believe in providing a quality service to our clients. We believe in integrity. When MiTek refers a client to GDI, they are endorsing our service with their client. That’s a big deal! At least to us it is.

MiTek has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting ready for BIM and the breakthrough of innovation it represents. With features like Sapphire Viewer, now anyone can go download a version to use on their iPad and view the project in 3D.

MiTek-Sapphire-Viewer

A review can be done, notes made, etc. See the video for more details. This is a breakthrough that the industry has been in need of for decades.

So you are probably wondering by now where I am leading to with all this. My team and I have been working long and hard developing a “Component Design Curriculum” that we use for our team members. We have offered it to our clients also. In fact, we have even trained our client’s staff to the point where they do not utilize our services anymore. Why would we do that you may be wondering? Because we believe in helping people to reach their full potential. This is available to anyone who is willing to invest in themselves.

My hope in writing this article is to inspire others to seek formal education. And also to inspire change at a higher level. GDI has brought on board an AutoCAD certified user with Autodesk Revit Architecture certification. This individual is teaching classes in AutoCAD at the local high school. GDI has proposed to introduce component design training at the high school level.  This will begin to spark interest with the younger generation. This may inspire them to pursue a field that many do not even know exist.

We are attempting to seek grant funding and begin down this new path. I have also proposed this idea to both MiTek USA and MiTek Canada. Who will be the first to invest in our industry? Stay tuned!

In short, we are one investor away from creating a company that will focus exclusively on higher education for component design through webinars, classes, mentor-to-student training, you name it. This would be a design “university”, where the candidate would seek education at their own expense. Imagine the reduced costs for training new team members. Imagine the credibility that could be established.

I am excited about what this could blossom to in our industry. What are your thoughts?

Christopher Gould – President

Gould Design, Inc.