2023 State of Design & Make Report Reveals Skilled Labor Shortage and Sustainability Concerns

Autodesk's Jeff Kinder discusses the statistics and trends in the annual industry study

Autodesk's Jeff Kinder discusses the skilled labor shortage. sustainability concerns, and other trends in the 2023 State of Design & Make Report

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Autodesk has just released its 2023 State of Design & Make Report, detailing the major industry trends revealed in survey responses from 2,500 business leaders and experts in the company's target sectors: Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (AEC); Media and Entertainment (M&E); and Product Design. The report identifies three top challenges: (1) retaining talent, (2) managing costs, and (3) responding to the volatile global economy and global events.

“Globally, 79% of respondents said the world feels more uncertain than it did three years ago,” Autodesk said in the announcement of the report. “An even greater share of European respondents (86%) felt this way. Factors contributing to the overall sense of unease included war, inflation, Europe’s energy woes, the pandemic, and ongoing refugee crises.”

Sustainability Emerges as a Priority

Fifty four percent of the participants said their companies' sustainability initiatives were “key parts of its business growth strategy for the next three years.” And 52% said “I wish this company prioritized sustainability as much as profits.”

Jeff Kinder, executive VP of Product Development and Manufacturing Solutions, Autodesk, takes that as a sign sustainability is no longer an afterthought. “By the way, our employees also expect us to help our customers deliver more sustainable outcomes,” he noted. 

The good news is, more and more businesses seem to be actively pursuing sustainability goals. Only 7% perceived that their industry/organization is doing nothing in this area, according to the report.

Skill Shortage

One glaring statistics from the report is, 56% of respondents said that their companies have “hired employees who do not have the skills needed for the
job and plan to provide these employees with on-the-job training.” It suggests skilled workers are not readily available and companies must invest the time and efforts needed to foster the talent they required.

Kinder's said, “When the pandemic hit, it was a shock to the system that created more retirements, more exits, and those exits exceeded the number of new entrants or new skilled labor that was coming into the market ... The technology is also changing rapidly. And that changes the skills that are needed ... Also, the move to the cloud, collaboration, generative design, and generative AI are really changing the skills needed.”

The shrinking talent pool and the need for new skills is a one-two punch for the industry, he pointed out.

Respondents revealed their concerns and issues in the 2023 Design & Make report. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

Digital Maturity

The survey also asks respondents to assess their own digital maturity. The result shows 17% of respondents believe their company is in the “early stage” of its digital transformation journey, and 45% say their company is “right in the middle of the effort.” Meanwhile, 25% say their company is “approaching the goal,” and 13% say their company has “achieved the goal.”

In their own self-assessment, 57% of the firms in China reported they were digitally mature, whereas only 30% of the U.S. firms made the same claim. Kinder believes how the different regions define “digital maturity” might have also affect these results. “You're never done with digital transforming. So when you embark on digital transformation is, it's important to embrace that,” he added.

The full report is available at Autodesk's dedicated site.

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Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong is Digital Engineering’s resident blogger and senior editor. Email him at kennethwong@digitaleng.news or share your thoughts on this article at digitaleng.news/facebook.

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