Hatley Shares Design Industry Insights in ENR

In a recent ENR Texas & Louisiana look-ahead at design industry trends, Freese and Nichols Executive Vice President Tricia Hatley shared insights on challenges facing clients, including a tight labor market, high costs, and sustainability and resiliency concerns.

Here’s a sampling from the article:

Another challenge the industry will continue to experience is higher costs for supplies and labor, along with inflation, which has delayed the implementation of some projects. This has some owners turning to a megaproject approach along with collaborative delivery strategies to control costs, Hatley says. But Freese and Nichols isn’t seeing projects get canceled.

“We’ve seen delays. But with most public infrastructure projects, owners don’t have the luxury of not doing them,” Hatley says.
Inflation hit a 40-year-high in 2022, causing the cost of must-haves in the industry to jump significantly-from plyboard to purchasing and renting equipment to labor costs. While the good news is that inflation is deflating a bit across the board, construction material prices are elevated and most likely will continue to remain high.

One area of engineering that could face a harder time, says Hatley, is infrastructure. Project owners will likely continue facing challenges, including a tight labor market for qualified engineers and construction contractors.

Hatley suggests changing the focus. “So, the conversation needs to center around different approaches: augmenting teams with those offering diverse skills, training up your own technical talent and having flexible work policies to retain your current labor force,” she says.

Additionally, Hatley says the industry must figure out how to harness the benefits of technology.

Technology can provide “a lot of great tools that will allow us to do our jobs not only more efficiently but better,” she says. In an earlier generation, transitioning from hand drafting to tools such as AutoCAD transformed the industry, she says. “The next revolution is going to take us in a whole different direction.”

Read the full article: “Texas & Louisiana Top Design Firms: Design Firms To Face Continuing Workforce Woes“(subscription required)