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Can apprenticeships help to rejuvenate and grow the talent pool in the commercial real estate space?

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Article posted by Maria Sinclair on Oct 21, 2021

The UK real estate market is no stranger to the growing talent pool shortage, but the post-pandemic landscape is looking equally challenging as businesses firm up their hiring plans for 2022.

Traditional career routes are not supplying the volume of quality people that firms need, and graduates have suffered as a result of COVID with furlough and redundancy limiting their options. Fast track to October 2021 and the demand for talent is at odds with how 2020 ended.

Following the recession of 2008/2009, the graduate/ recently qualified market didn’t recover until 2015/16 so we have to ask ourselves this: have we learnt from our mistakes of the past when it comes to investing in the talent of the future and are apprenticeship schemes one solution to the growing shortage?

What is the state of the graduate market?

COVID has hit graduates hard, with a lot of people’s educations having been put on hold. Some have not been able to complete their degrees, others may not have gotten the results they needed, and others have suffered from the act of lockdown increasing mental health issues through the pressure of isolation. How many graduates have we missed out on because they didn’t cope with lockdown and the knock-on effects?

But the impact is on the employer side too. According to High Fliers Grad Market report 2021, ‘employers have reduced the number of universities that they have actively marketed their graduate vacancies at during the 2020-2021 recruitment season, and one in six employers has given up targeting individual universities altogether.’

With many of the larger property firms at the start of the pandemic having let go of their junior level staff, with only the middle management left, there is now a void in the next generation of quality talent coming through. In the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers for 2020, less than 10 are pure real estate focused businesses. So what does this mean for property graduates?

Well, there are plenty of grads out there still, but are they considering property as a career choice? Some may want to move into surveying but are not fully sure what they want to do or how to go about it. If the number of firms that are “talent scouting” from the universities is falling, are the apprenticeship schemes a way forward?

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors supports the use of the schemes stating: “Apprenticeships are jobs that offer training to recognised industry standards and provide a great way to enter a global profession like surveying. Apprenticeships are a very effective way of learning skills, boosting your knowledge and gaining first-hand work experience. They enable you to gain transferable skills, secure long-term earning potential and progress your career.”

Property firms are starting to use the schemes as a means to deliver homegrown talent and it is an excellent way for people to gain access to the industry, gaining the experience they need to start their career in real estate. It’s an avenue that more firms should consider exploring.

Those who have entered property through an apprenticeship will bring different skills to those who have gone down the real estate graduate route. Employers should in theory benefit from a more diverse workforce and with a real need to improve accessibility, equality, and diversity across the board, this is an excellent starting point to achieve this.

It can also be a cost-effective way of upskilling thanks to Government support. A business can secure a bonus of up to £3000 for every apprentice they employ until January 2022. The data makes compelling reading too. According to data compiled by the National Apprenticeship Service, research amongst employers across a range of industries revealed that:

  • 83% count on apprentices as the skilled workers they need in the future.

  • 80% find their employees stay with them longer.

  • 92% feel they now have a more motivated and satisfied workforce.

All businesses and accredited bodies, however big or small have a responsibility to invest in the future talent of the industry and this certainly feels like a good starting point.

If you need help to hire property professionals, or need assistance with your property career, I’d love to help. Email or call me.

Article written by Maria Sinclair, Director - Real Estate, Construction & Property.

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