How do we bridge the US skills gap?

Adam Shaw, Executive Vice-President, sat down with the RICS Modus team to discuss the ever changing landscape for US skilled professionals in the built environment.

The surveying professions are directly linked to economic activity, and yet, in the largest-economy-in-the-world, we can’t quite seem to make it stick.

Fundamentally, the need is no different in the US as it is in the UK or Australia – the real difference is demand.

In a capitalist environment, checks and balances are frowned upon, eg ‘let’s just get a deal done’. The modern corporate environment has now embraced big data and are running their own numbers, but an algorithm can’t handle everything.

Clients such as Amazon and Google are amongst the largest proponents of traditional quantity surveying services in the US. This is driven from the tangible benefits they’ve seen elsewhere in the world, and they are seeking the same best value in the US market. This really signals a shift to client-based demand rather than project-based demand.

This transition to client demand and alignment is an incredible platform for our members to engage with Fortune 500 companies and drive a huge volume of global transactions and construction projects from our various member professions.

Large institutions and corporates look for the consistent results with appropriate checks and balances that many of our professions support. However, the domestic development community is somewhat less inclined to change their model and add another cost to their development budget, by employing chartered surveyors.

To raise the number of chartered surveyors the profession needs to better engage and understand the US higher education market. Unlike other markets, the US has a very unique approach which sees a greater burden on the individual to finance their degree. Establishing modern apprenticeship schemes within the US would undoubtedly increase demand and participation in RICS accredited or affiliated programs.

Without a significant investment in entry-level programs, firms will continue to rely upon non-cognate graduates and immigration to feed their teams, in an environment of increasing costs and reducing appetite for skilled migration. Partnering member firms in skilled training programs will also assist in the transition of new staff into the various tenants of professional practice.

For US Audiences:

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a professional body that accredits professionals within the land, property, construction, and infrastructure sectors worldwide. Professionals holding RICS qualifications use the following designations after their name: AssocRICS, MRICS, FRICS.

Many of WT Partnership’s staff proudly hold MRICS designation as Project, Construction or Cost Managers.

Originally published Nov 2017, RICS Modus: See original publication

The RICS Modus publication is a monthly magazine published internationally to members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) incorporating the latest news and views, expert advice and in-depth features spanning the breadth of the surveying profession around the world.