The commercial real estate industry is at the start of what is predicted to be a significant talent shortage, according to CEL & Associates, Inc., a national real estate consultancy and research firm. The shortage, which could last through 2019, will perhaps be felt most acutely in 2015, when the first wave of Baby Boomers retires in force and leaves behind a shortage of 15,000-25,000 qualified workers per year within this industry.
Add to this another disquieting statistic: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 145,340 property, real estate, and community association managers in 2000. By May 2009, that number increased to only 150,850 – a net gain of just 5,510 positions – in an industry that has made substantial increases in square footage in office, industrial, and retail buildings, all of which need management staff.
Never has upgrading the industry’s talent pool been so critical.
Attracting New Talent
For an industry that can’t just look to any college and tap into a vast well of graduates with “commercial real estate” degrees, the question becomes how to best recruit and train new talent, and how to best advance and pursue opportunities for those already in the industry.
“In general, I look for those candidates who have a business degree,” says Marc Fischer, senior vice president and director of management services for Transwestern. “In my experience, those candidates with a business degree can hit the ground running. They understand the basics of accounting, finance, law, and a host of other topics that are important in our business.”
The real estate business itself is in a state of monumental change. Adds Fischer, “I’ve been with Transwestern for 20 years, and we’ve come a long way from the property manager of the 1990s walking the building with a giant ring of keys on his belt. Many of the things we do today simply didn’t exist back then – controlling waste, managing electricity, implementing sustainability programs, and adopting new technologies. Back then, if you took out the trash and changed the light bulbs, you were hired. Today, there is a higher level of expectation for property managers. There is almost always a best practice for everything we do, and the bar is constantly rising.”