Is the Commercial Real Estate Talent Pool Growing or Slowing?

Is There a Talent Shortage in the Commercial Real Estate Sector?

Despite a future that will certainly be altered by robot labor and artificial intelligence, human capital continues to power industry in the United States and across the world.  Maintaining a talented workforce is essential for our economy to fulfill its true potential. Fortunately, the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) sector continues to employ some of the brightest and most creative minds out there and these individuals help make the $5 trillion industry what it is today.

Is There a Talent Shortage in the Commercial Real Estate Sector?

Absolutely, and this shortage is only likely to increase over the next ten years.  While this is an ideal scenario for those who are entering the industry or looking to achieve a promotion, it’s not so great for employers trying to fill open positions.  Below, we will address why this shortage exists and what can CRE companies do to make sure they find the very best talent.

Reasons for a Shortage

  1. An Aging Work Force

Given that our economy is currently at nearly full employment (particularly among college graduates), there is a talent shortage across almost all industries. The commercial real estate industry is no exception as we are seeing only the service industry and low-skill labor fields having surplus workers.

As Baby Boomers age out of the workplace, Generation X is moving up to take the positions once held by Boomers.  However, Generation X is a significantly smaller generation with an estimated 65.8 million people as compared with the Baby Boomer Generation which includes roughly 84 million people.  This disparity has created a workforce gap which has been challenging to overcome even with strides made in automation and other improvements in efficiency.

As it stands today, the average commercial real estate professional is 60 years old.  Young talent is needed to replace the aging workforce and unfortunately, as our next point highlights, that is becoming a challenge as well.

  1. College Graduates Flocking to Other Industries

According to Forbes magazine, not one role in Commercial Real Estate has cracked the top 10 most popular jobs for recent college graduates.  Furthermore, Real Estate doesn’t even break the top 40 most popular college degrees or areas of concentration according to one report. Need we say more?

How to Combat the Shortage

  1. Education

Universities throughout the United States are expanding their real estate programs—both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels.  Within the retail sector, ICSC has strongly encouraged universities to exhibit at its local, regional and national conferences in an effort to elevate awareness of their school’s real estate programs.  Furthermore, ICSC is engaging college students through an ambassador program as well as on “University Row” at select conferences including the Florida Conference and Deal Making coming up in late August.

As another example, in our hometown, the Atlanta Chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) has a program specifically dedicated to university students called UCREW designed to encourage, equip and connect students interested in the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Lifestyle

The rise of the “live, work, play” movement across all generations has altered what talented workers look for in a job.  A high salary and fancy title no longer fit the bill.  Millennials want experiences, not stuff, and that calls for a good work/life balance.  In order to attract top talent in an already competitive market place, CRE businesses need to consider their office location as well as their compensation packages carefully.

  1. Recruiters

Recruiters have access to the top talent (both junior and senior) in a given marketplace.  Without being self-serving, we encourage employers to engage a specialized recruiter to identify and secure talent so that the employees of the company can continue to focus on doing business.

  1. Selling the CRE Industry

The commercial real estate industry has many positive qualities that make working in the sector attractive: uncapped earning potential, flexibility, camaraderie and longevity.  These attributes can attract top talent; however, it’s crucial for companies to provide an environment that fosters professional growth and retention.

Typically noted as a “late adopter”, the CRE industry needs to adapt to the current market as well as lifestyle changes and the preferences of the younger talent pool. If there is one thing that is constant in life, it is change. With technology advancing at the rate that it is, not only is change inevitable but it is now occurring at lightning speed.  The Commercial Real Estate industry certainly does not want to be left behind because it does not have a young, strong talent pool.