It is not just construction workers who have been ensnared by Ireland’s property downturn: the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has warned of a job famine facing hundreds of new graduates who are preparing to enter the workforce. In the past four years, three new architectural degree courses, each lasting five years, have been set up in Waterford, Cork and Limerick, to cater for the demand created by the economic boom. The first of the new wave of graduates will come on stream next year, just as the leading architecture firms are being forced to lay off staff in unprecedented numbers. “It’s an ironic situation,” said Sean O’Laoire, president of the RIAI. “This is the first generation of architects who assumed they would get work, but even with the best will in the world, companies cannot afford to employ them. Historically, if this happened, architects would travel to hotspots around the world to find work, but because of the global situation there now aren’t that many.” Until the establishment of the three new architecture courses, an average of 100 architects were graduating in Ireland every year. In the coming years, colleges will be producing twice that number.