Inspiring the Next Generation
As my year as Chairman of RICS in Scotland enters its final weeks, it’s time to reflect on my time leading this great profession. We, like the other professional bodies within the built environment sector, face many challenges – such as the impact on membership as a result of demographics (two thirds of the membership is over the age of 45), diversity (only 13% of our membership is female), relevance in an increasingly global, diverse and mobile market and of course in appealing to the next generation of young people, many of whom now are still in primary school, to choose surveying as a career.
It is this last challenge that has so engaged me throughout the year. One of my first duties as Chairman was on my first day in July when I welcomed 50 newly qualified Chartered Surveyors (including our own Louise Glendinning and Andy Holtby) to membership, presenting each with their hard earned Diploma and wishing them all the best in the exciting careers on which they were about to embark. And this week, in one of my last duties, I opened the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) Prep Day in Stirling where 70 graduate surveyors converged to make final preparations for their impending assessments later this year or early in 2017. An impressive number for sure but in reality only a fraction of what our profession needs to meet current demand never mind projected demand as our ‘two thirds’ head into retirement.
And here lies the challenge, how do we attract more young people currently at school to enter Built Environment courses at University and choose a career in surveying? Well for a start we need to start young, much earlier than we currently do. We need to find a medium and a language best suited to this age group to inspire them in a way similar to law, engineering or architecture. The STEM framework is one way but so too is educating the educators (teachers are the second most influential people in children’s lives after their parents and few know anything about RICS and the diverse career options available in our sector) and putting up role models to talk passionately about the opportunities their career in surveying has given them.
As I’ve travelled the country to meet and engage with members I’ve heard time and again that our professional body isn’t doing what the members want. At the heart of the complaint is that RICS aren’t taking a stand against bad procurement, unsustainable fee levels and the dumbing down of our profession.
Well I’m not so sure the RICS is the culprit here or indeed is in a position to change things. We the members are the RICS, the professional body provides the framework for us to operate, to regulate, set and maintain standards and provide opportunities for continual learning. Its role is also to ensure we are a viable and relevant profession well into the future.
We the members need to tell RICS what we want and we do this by engaging and participating, completing the market intel surveys, reviewing and commenting on policy proposals and most importantly speaking up and speaking out when things are not right.
Collectively we as members are driving professionalism out of our profession. We are engaging with procurement systems that devalue us. The organisations that operate these broken systems do not value professionalism they value only our PI cover, but we continue to engage with them and play their game, cutting fees ever lower. Service of course suffers and gaps and failure are either covered over or just accepted. There is no audit process, no feedback loop to identify and link the failures back to the briefing process or the promise of service not delivered. The procurement system is broken but instead of speaking out we continue to engage with it.
If we value professionalism, doing a great job, getting paid the right fee, building sustainably profitable businesses, inspiring the next generation to join and follow us then we as members must take the lead, we must make the stand, we must take the action and do so collectively. If we do, our professional body will be there to support us.