Chronic Skill Shortage in Building Surveying

It is patent that over the next few years the workload for building surveyors is going to increase exponentially.

There is going to be a need to re-design and repurpose huge swathes of office premises, as a fallout of the pandemic. These offices will need to meet changes in the way people will want to use offices going forward.

More particularly, this is going to manifest itself as a requirement for surveyors to redesign and manage contracts to transform, for instance, older office accommodation now deemed unsuitable into something different yet income-producing.

It is surprising, given the performance of building surveying teams historically through recessions, why we have not seen a larger and more vociferous profession developing.

During all the recent recessions, the skills of building surveyors have always remained in demand and it is rare that a building surveyor could not reposition their skills to continue to make a profit during a downturn.

Regardless of this, and despite the best endeavours of many during and since the last recession, there has been considerable impact on building surveying training and recruitment. I believe that there will be significant skill shortages to deal with an increase in building over the next few years.

There are only a few large building surveying practices; most building surveyors within the RICS reside in practices of one or two. Many of these have taken their skills to companies where they are vital. For example, managing estates, housing associations, hospital trusts and universities. Added to this there are many building surveyors who serve local communities in small entities.

At Trident, over many years we have run a successful recruitment and training programme for our graduate intake. I am pleased to say that many have stayed on with us and progressed through the company. I also like to think that of those that have moved on, they feel that we provided them with a start in their careers that they deserved. Certainly, of the ones that I have kept in contact with, they all seem to be doing extremely well and blossoming in their new careers.

Regardless, those companies that can attract and retain building surveyors going forwards are going to have several years of heavy and – we hope – profitable workload to deal with.

Not only that but the work is likely to be very varied and interesting as clients seek to transform properties no longer used as offices into something more interesting.

It is a shame that there has not been a more concerted effort across the sector to nurture and develop our younger surveyors. Indeed, one of the challenges of the pandemic has been learning to train in an entirely different way.

Fortunately, the revolution in technology has been such that online learning has progressed in leaps and bounds. I doubt there is anyone who has not been able to maintain their CPD hours during lockdown. However, how we nurture and train our staff in groups in the office will be more challenging in the future.

Those practices who are close to building surveying courses at universities will have, I am sure, a ready supply of willing graduates who will see the opportunities that exist going forward.

It is undoubtedly the case that many of our younger surveyors will have been furloughed during the early days of lockdown. Certainly, I doubt that there are few building surveyors who remain on furlough now that we are gradually seeing a return to normality.

One measure for success in building surveying practices going forward will be how they can recruit, train, retain and get graduates through their RICS qualifications.

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