Harper Adams University Senior Lecturer in the Land, Farm and Agribusiness department, Andrew Black, recently launched the Grow Your Future project which aims to promote the awareness of the work which rural chartered surveyors carry out and get more people to pursue a career in this field.
This has been possible through the generous support of Higher Horizons+, part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP) which aims to increase participation in higher education in England.
The role of a rural chartered surveyor is incredibly diverse with surveyors giving advice to people that own or rent land, as well as those wanting to take access to land and property – such as companies who manage utilities and infrastructures including electricity, water and gas transmission equipment.
Andrew said: “A rural chartered surveyor is often the number one “go to” person – sometimes referred to as the ‘lead professional’. If you had an estate where you were working as an agent, as soon as something happens your client will often ask for you to deal with it. That can involve co-ordinating with other professions including accountants, solicitors, tax advisors, engineers, architects – your role can seem like you’re a conductor! One thing I have always loved about the job is problem solving, it’s practical, it’s thinking outside the box to ensure that everything your client has instructed you to do is accomplished.”
Grow Your Future’s primary aims are to widen the knowledge of the profession to the wider audience and those from a more diverse background. The website provides loads of information to help people understand what the profession is all about and also provides links to those looking to go to university to study relevant subjects such as Rural Enterprise and Land Management, Rural Property Management or Real Estate.
Andrew explained: “The website is a way to promote the message and explain the variety of the work we get involved in on a day to day basis. The project has captured many voices and stories from practicing surveyors and has turned these into bright and interesting videos, case studies and even a 3D game which helps to reinforce the message that surveying is a fascinating and practical career.
"The profession is desperate for new people as there’s so much work out there, from new roads to new gas mains, from old electricity routes requiring removal to new connections for new power stations. All of these projects need rural specialists, and chartered surveyors are leading the way.
“The only way we can supply this new talent is by promoting what we offer as a university to a much wider and more diverse audience, in particular those who, before this website, would never have heard of this career. I’m extremely passionate about this and look forward to welcoming new talent to start on their journeys to a highly-rewarding and bright future in rural surveying.”
Andrew is always looking to find innovative ways of teaching and promoting engagement. On open days and outreach events, he engages visitors with the ‘Valuation Game’, which can also be accessed digitally on the project website. Alongside this, he has set up activities for school visits which involve building downsized - but to scale - water pipe systems and more recently electricity pylons (see pictured).