SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco’s commercial real estate market is red hot with huge demand for office space, but industry leaders said there is a major deficit when it comes to workers needed to run these properties.

New buildings are going up and old ones are getting fixed up throughout the city. And more than half of the people running San Francisco’s commercial real estate properties are set to retire by 2020.

Cushman & Wakefield Chief Operating Officer Sandra Boyle said this is a pressing problem. “We are going to need people in our industry in the future. And those people are sitting in schools today,” Boyle said.

That’s why three years ago, Boyle founded a non-profit that helps create and fund San Francisco State University’s Commercial Real Estate Certificate program.

“We’re now seeing the graduates come out of the school and being hired,” said Boyle.

26-year-old program graduate Marina Ayad was hired right after her December graduation by Kilroy Realty Corp. as a property coordinator.

“This is actually my first real job experience and it ended up being a full-time job for me as well,” Ayad said.

She said she didn’t even consider commercial real estate as an option until learning about the program her senior year. “You’re dealing with tenants, you’re dealing with vendors, you’re dealing with our security guards, engineers,” she said. “Other people coming to the property, it’s different everyday.”

David Hysinger teaches most of the 120-140 students in the program at any given time.

“Employers like having graduates who know at least something about the subject when they graduate,” he said.

Hysinger said the program has been overwhelmingly popular. “There are well over 200, 300 students that would like to get into it each semester.”

The Building Owners and Management Association of San Francisco Foundation, a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) charitable organization, also awards students scholarships and is looking to expand to other Cal State schools.

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