Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Gauging Industry's Perspectives on Soft Skills of Graduate Architects: Importance vs Satisfaction

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

Gauging Industry's Perspectives on Soft Skills of Graduate Architects: Importance vs Satisfaction

Article excerpt

Abstract

The roles of architects today are becoming more diverse and demanding. Given the higher market expectation and broad job roles, architects need diverse qualities ranging from technical expertise to soft skills. To meet with these escalating requirements in the workplace, architectural firms nowadays demand for graduate architects that are appropriately equipped with relevant skills. This study focused on identifying the soft skills of graduate architects deemed important by the industry and to gauge their satisfaction with the level of skills possessed by the graduates. The results of a survey of professional/senior architects from 65 architectural firms suggested that proficiencies in English language (in terms of oral, written, oral presentation and written presentation) were rated as most important skills for graduate architects. Other highly valued soft skills include time management, listening, teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and decision makings. The findings further revealed that the employers were least satisfied with the graduates' English languages abilities in terms of written presentation, written communication and oral presentation. In addition, negotiation skills and analytical & critical thinking were also rated low in terms of satisfaction. The findings were useful in recognizing employers' expectations of soft skills and identifying gaps that exist in the quality of soft skills among graduate architects. Implications of the findings are discussed and recommendations for future research are put forward.

Keywords: Graduate architects, Soft-skills, Industry requirements

INTRODUCTION

Architecture is a discipline that requires an integration of multidisciplinary knowledge including arts, sciences, environmental awareness and technology. According to Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) (2014), the practice of architecture involves many different stages such as planning, project organization, designing and modelling of building design and construction, documentation, contract administration and many others. To accomplish these diverse tasks, architects need to deal and work with many parties including clients, project managers, surveyors, engineers, graphic designers, interior designers, contractors, and product suppliers. Architects are often required to lead a team of professionals, discuss and negotiate with contractors/clients and constantly solve issues and problems related to a project. As key player in the building industry, architecture is a field that requires one to be involved in multidisciplinary roles and expectations by different parties involved in the industry (Salleh, Yusoff, Amat, Noor, & Suredah, 2013).

Given the diverse job roles, there is a high need for architects today to be equipped with a broad range of skills set. According to the Board of Architect Malaysia or "Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia" (LAM), this include sketching and design skills, communication, managing relationships with various parties, negotiating, problem solving and ability to work both individually and with others. For new architecture graduates entering the industry, high expectation of the employers brings a challenge to these graduate architects. They need to aptly adapt to the high expectation of the job nature, as mistakes and incompetency can lead to damaging impact to firms' performance, productivity and competitiveness.

In Malaysia, architecture graduates will only be eligible to register as 'professional architects' upon passing their LAM Part 3 examination (Board of Architects Malaysia, n.d). Graduates with Part I and Part 2 qualifications are appropriately labelled as graduate architects. According to Harvey (2001), graduates' attributes were the determinant of their success at work apart from the specific degree they have acquired. In response to the industry's requirements of graduate architects, employees are expected to be competent in a wider spectrum of skills. …

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