Institute calls on governments to better support architecture graduates

We have renewed our calls for the Federal Government to extend subsidies paid to employers of trainees and apprentices to those employing architecture graduates.

Victorian Chapter President, Bill Krotiris, said the measure was urgently needed to support graduates whose employment prospects have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A national survey of our members at the beginning of last year found that nearly one-third of respondents (27.27%) had been forced to lay off or stand down staff,” Mr Krotiris said.

“The Institute has taken an evidence-based approach to put forward policy solutions to what is a worsening problem in our profession that will have adverse flow-on impacts to the wider building and construction sector, as well as the communities we serve.

“Our modelling of a subsidy equivalent to that currently offered for apprentices and trainees to employ the 1,300 Master of Architecture graduates from 2020 would generate a return on investment by the end of the first year of 132%, excluding savings from avoiding reliance on unemployment benefits. 

Kushagra Jhurani says people had suggested going door-to-door, but he wasn't sure if that was a good idea during COVID. (Supplied: Metro Trains)

“It’s a ‘no-brainer’, and we are only seeking it for two years to get the 2020 graduates who were heavily impacted by Covid-19 directly into working alongside Architects in practice.”

The plight of architecture graduates was recently highlighted by one recent graduate Mr Kushagra Jhurani who resorted to standing in the centre of Melbourne CBD with a placard seeking employment.

“Our Institute has taken a comprehensive proposal to subsidise the employment of graduates to the Federal Government, engaging directly with the Department of Education Skills and Employment, promoting it in our 2021 Federal Pre-Budget submission, and sending it to relevant Federal Ministers,” Mr Krotiris said.

“It’s heartbreaking to see the image of this young person, while, at the same thinking of all of these graduates whose potential contribution to a future sustainable, safe and high-quality built environment across our country in the cities, suburbs and the regions could be lost. 

“We call on Federal and State and Territory governments to urgently address this crisis”.

Mr Krotiris said that not only were these graduates specifically impacted by the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak in Victoria, but Victoria actually trains the majority of Architects in the country, with 43% of all master’s Graduates of Architecture emanating from Victorian universities. The wealth of talented and passionate architects that are emerging in this state provides us with confidence that with employment opportunity support, the future of our profession will be in good hands.

Mr. Krotiris also outlined the rigorous learning and practical experience journey established under the national framework of the Architect Accreditation Council of Australia that requires five years of full-time bachelor and master’s degree studies followed by a minimum of 3,300 hours of supervised employment, log-book requirements, and/oral and written exams administered by a State Architects Registration Board. 

“That’s typically a seven to eight-year journey, often longer given project opportunities afforded by small to large scale architectural practices. Our graduates often take up to five years of supervised employment before they can sit the Boards’ exams and finally attain registration.”

Mr Krotiris highlighted the role of the Institute, the nation’s pre-eminent body supporting and championing Architects for 90 years, in supporting these graduates in their early careers.

“Our PALS (practice of architecture learning series) program supports the professional development of graduates seeking to sit the States’ and Territories’  Board exams. “We have graduate architect competitions and awards, and a very active emerging and graduate architects’ membership and committees with representation on state chapter and national councils. We have all been graduates, their support and nurturing by our members are key to our profession’s future”.