How to solve the Quantity Surveyor Crisis?

    There’s been some alarming titles in the press
    for more than a decade now: “A global crisis of the surveying profession” (2008), “Surveyor skill shortage approaching critical level, warns RICS”
    (2015), “Easier to employ a ballet dancer than a quantity surveyor” (2017)…

    The latest CIOB-cross industry research report
    published in January 2019 highlights that the issue is far from being solved,
    with 42% of construction businesses reporting difficulties recruiting
    quantity surveyors, both now and by anticipation, post-Brexit.

    The RICS Construction and Infrastructure survey
    of Q1
    2019 also confirms that quantity surveying
    is still the occupation with the greatest staff shortages, beyond trades,
    bricklayers and other construction professionals, with 60% of companies
    reporting skill shortages in the profession. 

    Why are there shortages of quantity

    The construction sector in general is
    experiencing an ageing working population, with nearly 430,000
    construction workers to retire between 2010
    and 2020. More specifically, the quantity surveying profession experiences
    difficulties attracting young students, due to the complexity of the role and
    the lack of clarity on the definition of the profession.

    While a problem not limited to the UK, the
    uncertainties surrounding Brexit are enhancing this issue. As 26% of the UK construction workforce comes from the EU, the
    deterioration of the sterling makes the country less attractive as a work
    destination. Construction material costs inflation also leads to a greater need
    for complex cost estimates (and great quality quantity surveyors!).

    What are the solutions to address the
    quantity surveyor crisis?

    The government is looking at increasing the
    attractiveness of the profession, promoting apprenticeships and easing the
    barriers to immigration as different solutions to address this challenge. One
    of the recommendations of the CIOB-cross industry research report is to include
    the quantity surveyor profession to the future “Shortage Occupation List” of
    the Migration Advisory Committee.

    As a construction business owner, there are
    three routes to explore to find quantity surveyors.

    Take on apprentices

    23,000 apprenticeships started in England in
    Construction, Planning and the Built Environment in 2017/18. Taking on
    apprentices can be a really great way to attract young professionals,
    especially as quantity surveying apprenticeships are fairly quick to obtain –
    from 2 years for a Surveying or Geospatial Survey Technician apprentice (Level
    3) up to 5 years for a Chartered Surveyor Apprentice or Geospatial Mapping and
    Sciences Apprentice (Level 6).

    The latest apprenticeship data from the
    Department of Education in January
    2019 shows that only 9 people started an
    apprenticeship as a Geospatial Survey Technician since 2015/16, 506 as
    Surveying Technicians, and 1,892 as Chartered Surveyor Apprentices – there’s
    still room for many more!

    Look for temporary contractors

    Rather than desperately trying to recruit
    permanent quantity surveyors, recruiting contractors from temporary recruitment
    agencies can be a way to avoid turning down projects. While this route is typically
    more expensive than recruiting permanent members of staff, it can be a great
    way to release the pressure and gain flexibility. It might also lead some
    contractors to convert to permanent positions in the future.

    Leverage technology

    Becoming familiar with 3D modelling packages and
    BIM (Building Information Modelling) software (e.g., Estimator360, HBXL,
    PlanSwift, Clear Estimates…) to price projects can be another way to fix the
    crisis. While the barrier to entry can be high in terms of cost, digital skills
    required, and time required to select, implement and be trained on how to use
    estimating software packages, it can also be a great way to make the profession
    more attractive to younger generations too.

    Whilst the crisis will not be solved overnight,
    there are some solutions out there to explore to help you address this
    challenge now.