You’ve heard of too many cooks in the kitchen, but what happens when there are too many architects? A new report from the Architects’ Council of Europe shows that 27 percent of all the architects on the continent are licensed in Italy—that amounts to 153,000 architects, which is 50,000 more than there are in the U.S. This alarmingly high concentration of architects means stiff competition for a limited number of jobs.

too many architects

Oddly enough, the reasons there are so many architects is probably not what you’d think. Oftentimes, a career path booms when demand increases, and attractive wages lure in new students. In Italy, that’s just not the case. According to the Architects’ Council report, principals at Italian architecture firms charge on average about half the amount of their peers in Germany, France, and Britain—an average of $39 an hour. Odds are, the highly competitive environment has directly caused architects to lower their rates in order to attract jobs. The survey also revealed that Italian architects experience some of the lowest job satisfaction rates in Europe.

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Once upon a time, especially in Italy, architecture as a career would run in the family and children would follow in their parents’ footsteps. Now, some say, current architects are warning their children to find another line of work. Some Italian architects are working to escape the tough competition and over-supply of talent by building their skills so that they can work elsewhere in the world. Milan’s Politecnico, which has trained famous architects like Ponti, Aldo Rossi and Renzo Piano, has a plan offering advanced degrees in English, intended to support globalization efforts. The recent survey, however, indicates only four percent of Italian architects have taken jobs from another country over the past year.

Luciano Lazzari is an architect in Trieste and also the president of the Architects’ Council of Europe. “What you think an architect does and what an architect actually does is far, far different,” he told the New York Times. “Our biggest problem in Italy is bureaucracy — this very, very complex system which all are a part of. It makes it very difficult to work. If you spend 100 hours working, 98 will just be paperwork and bureaucracy. The fun part is very, very limited.”

Via New York Times

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