RICS Agenda [2022]: Member Engagement, APC Competencies and Digital Skills






"Straight forward and to the point; hopefully it's going to remain Black and White"

Abisogun OBE



DCS Founder and Chairman, Bola Abisogun OBE has been approached by RICS to continue and further develop, decade long conversations around relevant and evolutionary skillsets for the surveying practitioner with a focus on potential amendment to existing pre-qualification competencies. At this juncture, RICS aspire to include a clear focus on ‘people skills’ (including soft, management and emotional intelligence) along with the increasingly important and ever-changing, pathway specific, digital capabilities. Together, they represent just some of the many areas that, at least for the foreseeable future, will continue to influence and shape the global, built environment profession(s) moving forward.



Credit: Sarah Hayes, via DT Hub



Following earlier discussions with the RICS_SMT back in 2014/15, including Alan Muse FRICS, Prof Anil Sawhney FRICS, Neil Shah and Tim Smith, all taking place prior to a landmark trip to City of Atlanta in the State of Georgia, USA. A trip that in September 2015 actually personified an imminent global conversation #QS2030, where Bola had already envisioned a global profession that warranted closer attention to the entire engagement process, from initial contact and entry, through to qualification and onto life-long learning through emerging skillset(s) in what is now patently required to navigate, develop, maintain, and excel in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).



Credit: SoBC, Georgia Tech



Just as many clients have begun to ask more searching and demanding #ESG-infused questions of their project advisors, design teams and appointed supply chains; it would appear that RICS are equally keen to challenge themselves, as a governing body, around better equipped members, whose sole purpose is to deliver greater, more inclusive, public advantage and better project outcomes.


Back in 2015, during that short business trip to Atlanta and the School of Building Construction ‘SoBC’ at Georgia Tech, Bola was invited to help produce an outline ‘industry facing’ curricula which ultimately gave birth to ‘an elective’ and has since become known and offered as Advanced [Construction] Cost Management. Co-curated and delivered by industry together with a heavy technology bias; it remains in place and on offer at the SoBC. Such innovation is helping to shape the mindset of the resident Cost Management professional in the State of Georgia and across the USA, with a similar RICS ambition becoming wholly apparent and suitably embraced in 2022; soon to be applied upon and reflected within all surveying pathways.



Credit: SoBC, Georgia Tech



Mindful of the recent celebration of U.K. National Apprenticeship Week 2022; which concludes today (13.02.22) - what an opportune time to conduct a long overdue ‘breakfast’ conversation with RICS Representative Shane Balzan [located in Perth, Western Australia]. The international conversation between our Chairman and Mr Balzan took place online at the mid-point of National Apprenticeship Week with a clear and unfettered commitment to open up and develop a much wider and deeper conversation within and across the surveying profession. From an RICS perspective, the initial ask of DiverseCity Surveyors was to offer strategic support to them, in galvanising interest and ‘diversity of thought’ through our growing domestic and international footprint, whilst seeking to ensure that a diverse and representative audience of the profession remains informed and engaged.


Without delay and on conclusion of their critical conversation, which further demonstrated a firm commitment by RICS towards greater diversity & inclusion; the ask from RICS had [rather excitingly!] grown in many other important directions, but more on that later.



Credit: Shane Balzan



As if to demonstrate the support and need for greater diversity across the global surveying profession; significant and representative participation by members is now being sought by RICS around the longstanding conversation that has become ‘the entry route(s) into a surveying career’. How do you break into a career in Surveying, particularly if you are ‘first generation’ with no historic or current connection(s) to the profession? Such challenge has contributed to the unique offer presented by DCS since our inception back in 2005, but fast forward seventeen (17) years later; has that ‘historic’ challenge become any easier?



Credit: RICS [UK]



The conversation between RICS’s Shane and DCS’s Bola, clearly demonstrated that much more is needed to be done by RICS [as a key component of the wider built environment] to fully appreciate the scale and depth of the multifaceted challenge that co-exists across its global footprint of members; with each continent / geographic region presenting its own unique set of challenges.




Shane Balzan had this to say:


“…..RICS is conducting a review into all aspects of entry and assessment into the profession to ensure our routes are clear and accessible, attracting talented and diverse professionals committed to delivering confidence across the built and natural environment. There is more information, and a link to the survey, which is currently running, here:


https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/standards-of-qualification/review-of-entry-and-assessment-into-the-profession/



The survey covers the following topics, and even if you feel unqualified to respond to one or more sections, please do complete the rest of the survey:

  • Membership eligibility, pathways and competencies

  • Assessment methodology / quality assurance

  • Education and accreditation

  • CPD framework

To complement the survey, which is looking at various aspects of ‘entry and assessment’, we are also holding a series of online roundtable sessions, targeted at specific stakeholder groups, to get additional feedback on the topics covered by the survey. These sessions will be held virtually, during the months of March and April. If you would like to join a roundtable session, to provide feedback on your views and experiences, please email Shane Balzan at RICS: sbalzan2@rics.org, confirming your timezone, and general availability……”



Credit: DiverseCity Surveyors / RICS Presidents Room



Bola Abisogun OBE went on to say:


“My wider conversation with RICS has left me feeling optimistic that there is genuine ‘behind the scenes’ effort, progressing by the incumbent SMT. Speaking with Shane has been extremely insightful, not least of which because it seamlessly builds upon earlier conversation as far back as 2013/14, with the wider RICS Entry, Education and Skills Team now led by Ian Jeal. Of critical importance is the dire need for RICS to be bold in their decision making and strategic thinking when thinking about member engagement and future product and regulatory development, of the global profession.”



Credit: RICS [UK]



As RICS consider what the necessary skills and competencies are for tomorrow’s chartered surveyors, they will need to undertake a full review of the current pathway guides and competencies. This is an important milestone for the profession given the current crossroads on its purpose, strategy and governance; currently under review in an effort led by Lord Michael Bichard.



Credit: RICS [UK]



Consideration will also need to be given to:


  • What skills and competencies (and at what level of technical proficiency) are necessary to be demonstrated by an APC candidate at the point of qualification (whether Assoc or MRICS); and

  • What skills and competencies are (or may potentially be deemed) not necessary / mandatory at the point of qualification, but would be expected to be demonstrated / refined post-qualification: e.g. as part of a surveying related specialism; and / or towards fulfilment of ongoing CPD


The above scenario has become a direct by-product of the overwhelming digital transformation that has unearthed and [finally!] taken root within the surveying profession following the global pandemic. It is to this end that RICS, recognising the structural and systemic disruption that such trends now present to the current business models and professional practices of both regulated firms and members respectively. That RICS appear increasingly willing to tackle this multi-faceted, non-negotiable challenge head on, is definitely something to be commended. The future [and day-to-day delivery] of RICS regulated professional services are about to change in ways that many member firms, practitioners, and indeed Clients for that matter, may never have envisioned before. Change will be apparent across both horizontal and vertical value chains and critically, will need to be people-centric in both their adoption and implementation.



Credit: Anon / 4IR


Mention was made earlier to 4IR technologies and their disruptive impact across all sectors of society. As part of Bola’s well documented effort over the last two (2) decades, and specifically the last two (2) years, he has been working tirelessly with the amazing team at the University of Cambridge, within the Centre for Digital Built Britain, led by Alexander Bolton. It is within the entity known as CDBB, where the challenge of technological disruption, which remains ever present across the built environment, has been strategically positioned and landed as the National Digital Twin programme [NDTp].


As a member of the CDBB Digital Twin Toolkit development team and now Gemini Council, our Chairman, Bola Abisogun OBE, working alongside Sarah Hayes, the Change Stream & CReDo Lead; supports the view that one has to focus on the intrinsic relationship between members of the U.K. surveying profession and the government funded National Digital Twin programme, which remains in transition in terms of legacy preservation and future development.



Credit: Centre for Digital Built Britain / Cambridge



The vision of a National Digital Twin as an ecosystem of connected digital twins enabling better social and economic outcomes across the built environment continues to gain wide support. But to make it a reality, we need people with the right skills to put it into play [and maintain the ‘agile’ future development of it]. Such people must include BOTH the UK domestic and wider, global surveying profession.


Sarah went onto say: “Collaborate on the rules and compete on the game” is a phrase we use to describe how we want connected digital twins to evolve. The sporting analogy carries over well into skills. We want the best teams to deliver on the National Digital Twin, not just a team of strikers or goalkeepers but diverse teams with a range of skillsets and capabilities. Diversity has to be at the heart of a skills strategy ensuring that the future workforce is more effective.”


The skills & competency framework sets out the skills that are needed to manage information and work with data in the future. These aren’t just what we might see as hardcore technical skills such as data modelling and analytics which are described as digital skills but also business skills like transformational leadership which recognises the benefits of getting information management right.


The capability enhancement programme sets out pathways for individuals and organisations to get the right skills in place depending upon aspirations both at the personal level and the organisational level. Have a go at the self-assessment questionnaire to assess what training might be helpful to you and take a look at the training register to find a suitable course.


The National Digital Twin is a long term journey and there is time to get the right skills in place to reach our destination.”



4IR Technologies in Construction


“On the whole, there are four main effects that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has on business — on customer expectations, on product enhancement, on collaborative innovation, and on organizational forms. Whether consumers or businesses, customers are increasingly at the epicenter of the economy, which is all about improving how customers are served. Physical products and services, moreover, can now be enhanced with digital capabilities that increase their value. New technologies make assets more durable and resilient, while data and analytics are transforming how they are maintained. A world of customer experiences, data-based services, and asset performance through analytics, meanwhile, requires new forms of collaboration, particularly given the speed at which innovation and disruption are taking place. And the emergence of global platforms and other new business models, finally, means that talent, culture, and organizational forms will have to be rethought [i.e. positively disrupted].


Overall, the inexorable shift from simple digitization (the Third Industrial Revolution) to innovation based on combinations of technologies (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) is forcing companies to re-examine the way they do business. The bottom line, however, is the same: business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.”


Credit: World Economic Forum



Led by the unwavering #thoughtleadership of our Chairman, Bola Abisogun OBE, the Board of DiverseCity Surveyors look forward to supporting the emerging and continuous effort of RICS on all of the above. If you would like to speak with our Chairman or any member of our Board, please do send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.