Demand jumps for NTC architectural design grads

April 7, 2014

From “Demand jumps for NTC architectural design graduates” — WAUSAU — Marina Reinke will have a job waiting for her when she graduates May 17 from Northcentral Technical College with a degree in architectural design.

She’ll be working as a designer for a home builder in Amherst. That’s good news for Reinke, 19, of Wausau, and it is indicative of positive developments in the housing and building industry and the local economy as a whole.

But it also represents a bit of a problem: Instructors for NTC’s architectural design, sustainable architecture and other construction-related programs say that employers in those fields are beginning to clamor for trained workers. Unfortunately, instructors said, there aren’t enough graduates to fill the need for those positions.

The change over the past five years has been dramatic, said Jeff Musson, an architectural design and technology instructor. In 2008 and 2009, at the height of the Great Recession and after the housing market collapsed, NTC received only 10 job postings from employers looking for those skills. In 2013, NTC received 176 postings, and already, the school has 82 postings in the first quarter of this year.

“It’s frustrating for me,” Musson said. “I mean, these are good jobs, paying $15 to $20 per hour. And I don’t have anybody to send them.”

Reinke is one of 12 architecture and sustainable architecture students who will graduate in May. The total number of students in those programs now is 22.

Part of the problem, Musson said, is that a lot of students steered away from architecture during the recession, when there were no jobs to be had in those fields. Some counselors and parents still advise students to look to other fields in the belief that the jobs still aren’t there. Musson said parents often are surprised when he tells them about the demand for building-related jobs when he speaks at open houses and other events.

Chris Pomerening, 22, of Athens plans to move on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture after he graduates with his associate degree in sustainable architecture from NTC in a couple of months.

Prior to enrolling at NTC, Pomerening studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County. The switch to architecture, even during a recession, was a move in a more secure direction, he said.

“People are always going to need houses,” Pomerening said.

Reinke was offered her job even before the spring semester started and looks forward to going to work.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’ve been excited ever since.”



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