Creating the Future – The importance of investing in lifelong learning

May 15, 2023
‘Create the Future’ is the theme for this year’s Learning at Work Week (15-21 May) and, operating in a sector with dwindling numbers of qualified surveyors, it is more important than ever that we invest in the future of this profession.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, surveyors ‘play a key role in developing new high-tech, sustainable cities, tackling climate change and solving global issues like urbanisation, migration and resource scarcity’.

The number of qualified surveyors has been on the decline since the recession of 2008 when demand for our services fell, and today the impact of this is still being felt across the sector as the shortage of qualified practitioners continues to plague the industry.

That is why investing in the future of the profession is so important – not only to bring new (as well as experienced) blood into property as a career, but to support the development and growth of those already in it.

As an Investors in People Gold accredited business, Vail Williams embraces a culture of lifelong learning – from grassroots right through to the end of a person’s career or journey with us.

This learning journey starts early, as we support the promotion of a career in property, going into local schools to speak to young people about what a career in property looks like, and the opportunities that it can create.

“Promoting a career in property, particularly to young women, is vitally important, as the sector has suffered from an historic lack of women in the profession.

“Thankfully, we are starting to see this change, and over the last 12 months, all hires into the business have been almost 50/50, at 46% female.”

Tanya Horscroft, Learning and Development Manager.
The journey from entry into the property profession to becoming a qualified surveyor requires a commitment to learning which goes beyond the study books.

“When you become a surveyor, a lot of the learning process via the APC route is done through experience and the building up of a case study to demonstrate competence.

“We are lucky to have several APC assessors amongst our ranks, so we can support our APC students throughout their qualification using our knowledge and experience to reinforce their learning at work through mentoring, offering advice on everything from their portfolios through to interview support for their assessment,” added Tanya.

Another vital component in supporting the future of the building surveying profession is the apprenticeship route, which is open to people of all ages.

This career route allows people to learn and gain a qualification, whilst working, offering a different route through to formal qualification.

Apprentice, Becca Houghton, who joined the Vail Williams in 2019, said:

“After finishing my A levels, I knew the traditional university route wasn’t for me. The apprentice role at Vail Williams has given me the opportunity to kick-start my career, whilst still being able to undertake the qualifications I need to progress and grow in a way that suits me.”

Of course, the careers we start out with won’t always be the careers that we retire from, and one way in which we can create the future, is by supporting the lifelong learning of our people, through the pivoting of careers and the upskilling of our people – whether they are surveyors or part of our wider support team.

Our People Development Managers are here to support our staff to achieve their career goals as the primary focus, enabling us to improve internal mobility within the business, and retain our talented workforce.

“That’s exactly what Vail Williams did for me when I wanted to move from Regional Facilities Management to focus on developing my expertise in Learning and Development. The firm took time to understand what I wanted from my career, and together, we developed a mutually beneficial role which would allow me to continue my career growth,” added Tanya.

By embracing the concept of lifelong learning, we open up opportunities for career growth which, at Vail Williams, can take you from apprentice or graduate, right through to Regional Managing Partner, as Danny George, Regional Managing Partner for our Gatwick region, can attest.

Danny joined in 1998 and, after completing his degree in Estate Management in 2009 and becoming chartered in 2014, he was promoted to Partner in 2018 and was invited to join the LLP in 2022. Throughout this time, he held additional responsibilities including Head of Business Rates in 2019 and Regional Managing Partner in 2020.

In short, it is through our learning and development philosophy that we:

  • Ensure that we continue to promote a compelling, collaborative and innovative working environment
  • Infuse knowledge throughout the team
  • Improve opportunities for succession; and most importantly
  • Deliver the best advice for our clients

As we celebrate this Learning at Work Week, we take the opportunity to pause and to reflect on the role we play not only in ‘creating the future’ of the building surveying profession, but in helping to cement the career success of the people within it – both within our doors, and as our people move beyond them.