Peter Goodacre: 'Those who understand the relationship between money and property have much to offer'

President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
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The Independent Online

As economies the world over rise to meet the challenges of the current financial crisis, maintaining confidence has never been more important. Businesses and governments rely on those in all industries to inspire confidence through their professionalism. This is nowhere more evident than in the land, property, and construction sector, where the high professional and ethical standards of chartered surveyors are at a premium.

Choosing a career path will be probably the most important decision you ever take. It is important to research properly and consider job prospects, financial rewards, lifestyle and long term prospects. Chartered surveyors will be found in most countries of the world engaged in a wide variety of tasks. Most will be employed in construction or property. But the advantage of being educated as a chartered surveyor is the ability to move into different disciplines of surveying as your education and training progresses.

The surveying profession is a versatile, global profession offering a vast range of opportunities to make a real difference, worldwide. RICS represents some 200 specialisms, across commercial and residential property, construction, arts and antiques, geomatics, dispute resolution and more. The land, property and construction sector is estimated to represent some 70 per cent of total global wealth. The issues RICS members deal with day-to-day affect everyone, everywhere. They have a profound impact at all levels – on individuals and communities, small enterprises, global corporations and governments.

Property and construction are, along with almost every other sector of business, being affected by the economic downturn. However, the underlying trend is one of severe skills shortage. Therefore, now is a very good time to begin studying to become a chartered surveyor.

There can hardly be more important contributions to society than providing decent housing; making sure industry has the buildings it needs to operate; managing the land to make it as productive as possible; improving energy efficiency to combat climate change... The list goes on.

By 2050, the world's population is predicted to be 9.5 billion. Management of the Earth's fragile resources so that there is enough land and water to feed us all as well as providing space for homes, commerce and recreation will need the sort of skills chartered surveyors possess.

For the first time in the history of the world we now have more people living in towns and cities than in rural areas. The growth of "mega cities" (like Chongqing, which has 32 million inhabitants, covers an area roughly the size of Scotland, and has 57 universities) brings huge challenges in terms of providing enough affordable housing; planning for integrated development of buildings and infrastructure; developing and enforcing safe building codes, and many other issues. RICS members are experts in land use planning and management.

Buildings also account for over 40 per cent of carbon emissions, so making them more energy efficient is a high priority. Building surveyors are experts in this field, carrying out energy surveys and recommending measures to improve efficiency.

All employers have to take corporate social responsibility seriously and a big part of this is sustainability. Young people, rightly, want to know that they are working in an industry that cares about communities and the environment, and that they can personally make a difference. The opportunities in surveying are immense, as this supplement shows.

The global financial crisis has highlighted what can happen when complicated financial instruments lose touch with the underlying assets on which their value depends – often real estate. Professionals who understand the relationship between money and property have much to offer as the world seeks to ensure greater future economic stability.

Over the last year the property business has seen some turbulent times and 2009 is set to be tough in many sectors. But property markets operate on a cycle, as with the general economy. You will see within this supplement how certain parts of the surveying profession have managed to maintain stability during this difficult time. This is testament to the wide variety of skills and knowledge that surveyors have to offer.

For more information on careers in surveying, contact RICS on 0870 333 1600 or visit