David Tuffin: Becoming a chartered surveyor is not easy - but it's well worth the effort

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The Independent Online

When the RICS raised the A-level entry threshold for enrolment on accredited degree courses run by our university partners, there were some concerns that we could face a decline in the number of undergraduates choosing the profession. Happily these fears have proved groundless.

We now benefit from the widely held perception that qualifying as a chartered surveyor is not easy, but well worth the effort.

At a time when baby boomers are approaching retirement, and demographic trends are beginning to worry those with actuarial tendencies, the RICS has seen its student membership rise by almost 300 per cent over the past five years, with 7,782 new students joining in 2006.

Around 27 per cent of these new students are female and the number of non-cognate graduates undertaking MSc and other conversion routes is also rising.

The real estate investment market is a global one, and RICS-accredited courses are available in many parts of the world where markets are emerging and developing. These 400 accredited courses enable the RICS to provide a wide entry portal for future members of all types - including those from vocational as well as academic backgrounds.

Universities, too, are responding to the needs of the profession and the needs of women returning to work after career breaks by providing short technical update courses, including work shadowing. Encouragingly, many of these courses are being supported by employing organisations.

The RICS's Raising the Ratio task force has been a positive catalyst between higher education and surveying organisations. However, we still need to recognise there are many highly qualified women across the property, land and engineering disciplines who have either left the profession or not yet returned to work after a career break.

As a profession, we need to present visibly accessible career opportunities and take a creative approach to management and development.

Technical entry routes into surveying have also been enhanced. One example is the Diploma in surveying practice - widely acknowledged as a bridge foundation course from surveying technician to surveyor.

The role of young surveyors' group matRICS in helping those making career decisions is crucial. It makes a real difference if people can talk to established professionals and find out about the opportunities available.

There remains the challenge of getting students to complete their courses and then training them for their APC qualification, and eventually full membership of the RICS. Too many are being lost to the profession, and work is underway to analyse the causes and stem the fallout. One important factor is the need to retain good university lecturers and course tutors. However, current reward packages seem insufficient to prevent the steady loss of the very people on whom we rely to educate our future members.

If we can solve these problems, our future as a successful global property profession is assured.

www.rics.org/careers

David Tuffin is the President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

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