Like most industries, Commercial Real Estate is undergoing a major change with respect to its workforce. With the youngest Baby Boomers turning 62 in 2026, many professionals from that generation are set to retire. But the harsh reality exists that there are not enough members of Gen X (those born from 1965 through 1980) to replace the retirees. As such, Millennials, and perhaps even more importantly Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012), will be needed to continue to lead the CRE Industry. But this is not going to happen organically. CRE professionals and premier industry organizations like SIOR will need to be proactive in their recruitment efforts to make sure the industry has the next generation of leaders prepared for tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.
SIOR is taking a multi-pronged plan to recruit new members, and one example is its highly successful Member Associate program. This program is geared towards providing mentorship to new CRE professionals who have one to eight years in the industry, and help them to become strong industrial and office brokers. This program has helped to attract a younger and more diverse CRE professional both for the industry and SIOR.
As it pertains to inclusivity in our industry, SIOR has spent the past few years partnering with programs like REEX to help expose a diverse group of teens to the full CRE landscape, including brokerage. Within these partnerships, SIOR members have served as mentors and guides, helping students through experiential learning activities including real life case studies. Many of these high school students come out of the 10-day sessions with a desire to pursue real estate in college.
While exposing high school students to CRE through REEX and other similar programs, SIOR is not ignoring college students. In fact, SIOR is working towards creating partnerships with key universities and colleges across the United States, including historically black colleges and universities. The goal is to ensure that students interested in real estate get a thorough understanding of the commercial sectors. In doing so, SIOR has opened up their two global events, TransACT 360 and CREate 360, to college students interested in CRE. During the conferences, the students are able to attend educational sessions, but more importantly, they are provided with networking opportunities critical to their future employment in the industry.
While networking opportunities at SIOR events are a great way for students to briefly learn about CRE, the best way for college and high school students to truly learn about CRE is through one-on-one meetings. Many SIOR members have made a habit out of taking time to meet with students and provide a fair and balanced understanding of what it takes to become a successful CRE professional. The industry is not for everyone and the best way to determine if a career in CRE is worth pursuing is for a student to learn firsthand how SIORs became successful, while handling the ups and downs of the profession. Even during the pandemic, SIOR professionals have continued to provide guidance and advice through Zoom and Teams meetings.
Once a student is confident that CRE is an avenue to pursue, an internship is the next step. SIORs often provide these opportunities, helping students better determine their specific CRE sector of interest, whether it be office, industrial, or something else. At that point, the student is able to proactively seek employment opportunities in the industry and SIORs work together to help place these students in the right situations that will foster their growth.
Populating the future of the CRE industry with the best professionals is a long-term project but SIOR is at the forefront of this vital process and ready to help lead the industry for years to come.