Despite an increase in the number of students enrolling in property and construction courses in recent years, a new report predicts that graduate output will be insufficient to meet future demand and that Ireland is set to experience a shortage of over 2,000 construction and property surveyors over the next four years.
The report, Employment Opportunities and Future Skills Requirements for Surveying Professions 2018 – 2021 predicts that 3,739 additional surveying positions will be created over that period.
However, the number of students graduating from property and construction related degree programmes over the same period will only number 1,577, a shortfall of 2,162.
The projection is based on economic growth of 3% per annum. If the economy grows by 4% per annum the shortfall will double to 4,000 up to 2021. The European Commission has forecast GDP growth of 5.7% for Ireland this year and 4.1% for 2019.
The author of the report Dr Róisín Murphy from Dublin Institute of Technology, says the situation is so serious that the lack of supply of suitably qualified surveying professionals is now the primary constraint to employment growth.
“Over the last four years there has been a notable increase in employment across every surveying profession, which in many instances has exceeded the estimates in our 2014 to 2018 report. The projected demand for surveyors between 2018-2021 spans every level of experience, from graduate to senior surveyor, and as positions are filled at higher levels it will undoubtedly generate further opportunities for graduates. However, while there has been an increase in enrolment on third level surveying programmes in the last number of years, the increased supply of graduates has continued to be outstripped by demand.”
“As a result, the shortage of suitably qualified surveyors is likely to continue to put upward pressure on wage levels and ultimately on building costs. The other main constraints on growth cited by respondents were clients’ access to finance, the cost of finance, taxation and Brexit”
“Our findings show that the key drivers of employment are consumer sentiment and indigenous private sector investment. The domestic economy is likely to provide the impetus for employment growth across the surveying professions and based on our projections, graduate output will fill less than half of the posts being created. The situation is particularly acute in the property surveying sector which includes estate agency, valuations, asset management and property management. The shortfall here is predicted to be 1,110 in the next four years” Dr Murphy said. (See Fig 1)
Data for the report, which was commissioned by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, was collected from SCSI member practices via an online survey, interviews with industry stakeholders and enrolment data from third level institutions.
The SCSI’s Director of Education James Lonergan described the findings as alarming and said they underlined the urgent need for a dramatic increase in the number of Chartered Surveyors to build, sell and manage the new homes, offices, health, transport and education facilities the country so badly needs following years of under-investment.
“If we are to produce more graduates we will need more property and construction courses and hence we will require more investment in third level education. For example at the moment only one third level institution provides an SCSI accredited Building Surveying Programme. We also need to promote the profession more, to facilitate collaboration between the industry, the SCSI and the education sector while also encouraging experienced surveyors to return to Ireland.”
“Information technology is transforming the way surveyors work be it through 3D modelling, augmented and virtual reality or Building Information Modelling. However, some respondents pointed out that under-investment in IT by the industry over the past decade may have left the sector lacking in expertise in this area and the acquisition of IT skills must be a top priority for the profession as should the provision of advanced surveying qualifications more generally.”
“The report also found that there is growing awareness within the profession of a need for greater diversity in the workforce and that the benefits of gender, age and cultural diversity are not being fully realised.”
“Of course, there are positives here for anyone considering a career in surveying and we would urge any students who are interested in property or construction to consider a career in a sector which can offer high levels of mobility, job satisfaction and career advancement as well as international opportunities. In that regard it is worth noting that the final date for CAO change of mind applications is July 1st” he concluded.