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Chartered Surveyors in Short Supply
A lack of qualified chartered surveyors emerging into Scotland’s job market is a serious cause for concern in the industry, according to a recent survey.
RICS, the UK Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, recently concluded via their Construction Market survey that four fifths or 85% of surveyors noted a lack of qualified candidates causing problems for their recruitment process. The workforce is ageing and there is a widening skills gap appearing. This has been dubbed “the greatest skills crisis since 1998” by the surveyors.
In Scotland, total industry output was £14.5bn in 2016 compared to £14.7bn the previous year, according to the Office of National Statistics. Similarly, infrastructure output fell from a record £4.2bn to £3.1bn. These statistics highlight the real effect recruitment shortages have on the industry en masse.
Up to 27,000 developments across the UK could be at risk in the next four years and the rejection of such funded projects has been largely attributed to the lack of a suitable workforce identified by RICS’ survey.
The report also concluded that 43% - two in every five - surveying firms are being forced to turn away new business opportunities - an average of five contracts per year - due to the lack of skilled workers.
Unfortunately, it seems that these problems are unlikely to be resolved soon - with RICS predicting that the industry will be faced with similar problems over the next five years.
However, wages in the construction industry across the UK are far above the national average, increased by this shortage in skilled workers — earnings in this area have risen by over 6% in the year to October, 4% higher than the average UK wage rise.
More teenagers keen to make a foray into our industry and more encouragement and opportunities for talented trainee surveyors are required to resolve these problems. Only then can the industry perform to its full potential.
Recent events such as Scottish Apprentice Week have, crucially, put the national spotlight on the importance and availability of apprenticeships for careers like chartered surveying. We must work hard to reap the rewards of such attention.
There is some discussion amongst industry professionals as to how new technologies are proving a catalyst for the change in demand for surveyors at large. Automated Valuation Models are becoming more accurate and reliable meaning the skills and labour required of chartered surveyors as a profession is changing.
However, despite these technological advancements, clearly surveying remains a core component of our residential property market and there are many aspects of the profession that technology cannot replace. The core, human skills of perception required make for a vital professional service in our industry.
Strong figures in the industry contribute positively to the health of our property market and therefore the economy at large. Despite this lack of new blood in the industry at present the value in the occupation, of course, remains high. But it remains an essential responsibility of our industry to promote the next generation of chartered surveyors to boost our workforce.