Matthew Cumber is managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services
In my previous blog I touched upon the recruitment process, our leadership development programme and how many of our people have progressed up through the ranks. This time I’d like to dig a little deeper and flag up one of the major issues holding back the surveying sector.
Make no mistake, successful recruitment is a heady mix of planning, resource, processes and a sprinkling of luck along the way. However, as the old adage goes – ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’.
As a company, we are extremely proud of our track record when it comes to investing in new talent. The CSS Training Academy has delivered 200+ surveyors into the industry over the past six years. Despite some obvious challenges, we have continued our recruitment drive with 20 trainees graduating over the course of 2020 and a further 13 qualifying as AssocRICS in 2021.
2020 has certainly not been an easy year for a variety of reasons. Business levels have ebbed and flowed (and then flowed even more) and we’ve all had to overcome some unprecedented logistical, operational and capacity issues.
However, according to recent Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) data, vacancies in the financial services sector are well on their way to recovery after a sharp slump at the start of the pandemic. The research showed that whilst hiring fell 58% in the second quarter of 2020, numbers improved towards the end of year with recruitment levels up 15.2% year-on-year in December 2020.
Of course, individual businesses will have had to juggle remote working, furlough, layoffs and expansion over the course 2021 and it’s been a tough ask for many. In many ways, firms operating in and around the property market have been more fortunate than most as the housing market has largely remained open and buoyant.
This has allowed firms with strong infrastructures to continue growing and initiatives such as training academies have continued to make a positive impact across the mortgage industry. When I say training academies, this doesn’t have to be a huge factory-like facility producing an identikit workforce.
It’s simply about having some form of recruitment and training processes in place to attract new talent and provide a successful pathway into the right areas of the business when there is the capacity to do so.
Within the surveying industry, we all have a responsibility to attract and train the next generation. It’s encouraging that the RICS has reported that in the first half of the last financial year, over 2,300 individuals were awarded AssocRICS or MRICS, but we cannot be complacent.
As if we are, the industry will not be able to keep up with demand as older surveyors retire and we will be faced with a shortage of personnel which will inevitably result in longer turnaround times.
Of course, training and mentoring is not easy under the current restrictions but as surveyors are predominantly based from home, firms should now be sufficiently equipped to provide the necessary tools and guidance to support them on their qualification journey.
Arguably the biggest recruitment issue currently facing the surveying industry is that some firms are not focused on developing their own schemes and don’t have any initiatives to attract new talent into the industry.
Many are simply investing their time and energy into poaching individuals from rival firms which is unsustainable in the long run.
As we start recruiting for our May Trainee Academy, which will attract talent from across the property sector to train the become surveyors and after the year we’ve all had, now is the time to act collectively rather than predatory when it comes to growing the number and quality of surveyors.
And it’s this kind of cohesive approach to recruitment which will ensure that the needs of homebuyers and lending partners are being successfully met in a timely manner now, and in the future.