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Graduation 2018: The importance of defining what a rural chartered surveyor is

Posted 8 October

“If we can’t define what a rural chartered surveyor is then how are we going to promote it?"

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BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management (REALM) graduate Alex Watts has always found it frustrating that there’s no simple description of what a rural chartered surveyor does and warns that without one, the profession is struggling to appeal to a wider market of new talent.

Alex, 23, has completed her Honour Research Project (HRP) on this issue and to try and find some solutions.

The graduate from Framlingham, Suffolk, said: “If we can’t define what a rural chartered surveyor is then how are we going to promote it?

“I’ve always found it frustrating trying to explain to friends at home what I’m doing when they ask. It’s really hard to just put it into a sentence. That’s why I decided to do my HRP on it.

“To gather my data, I interviewed 16 different surveyors who came the Harper careers fair which is hosted at the university each year.

“I asked them what was the best thing about their job, how had they heard about the profession, what made them choose the career and to describe a typical working week.

“From this, I could get a feel for how those in the industry had found out about it and what they enjoy.

“I also held a data collection event called a World Café for final year REALM and rural property management (RPM) students. I split them into three groups to answer three key questions: what challenges do you face when trying to describe rural chartered surveying, how better can it be promoted and the key selling points of the career.

“From both the interviews and the world café, I found that a key selling point for the career is variety; the variety behind the work itself, the environments worked in and the people they worked with. They said no two days were ever the same as there’s such a range of work; many people think rural is restricted to land, farms and farmers but the commercial and the residential side of the role often gets forgotten.

“I think promoting how diverse the role is, is very important. It doesn’t restrict you.

“When it came to defining the job, most of the participants don’t like that it’s sometimes defined as an estate agent, but then they all admitted that they sometimes fell back to that definition because there isn’t a quick definition for a rural surveyor and most people know what an estate agent is and does.

“The vast majority of people when asked how they found out about the profession said they found out about it from family or friends rather than through educational material produced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggesting unless you know someone who is a surveyor, you’re highly unlikely to come across this career. This was the real challenge in my research; how can we make the career more accessible to the wider domain and how can careers advisors be expected to promote the profession unless they have modern and easy to use resources?

“Work experience was also highly recommended as being really valuable. You can never truly grasp what this career’s about without spending some time in offices; even if it’s only in one office. There’re so many areas you can go into; rural, utilities, residential.

“I was fortunate to be able to work on these challenges as part of a much larger project being led by one of my lecturers, Andrew Black and funded by the National Collaborative Outreach Project (NCOP).

“A new website is currently under construction called ‘Grow Your Future’ which features design and content influenced by my research. This website will combine case studies, videos and interviews with interactive games and quizzes to promote just how varied and exciting this career can be.”

Alex Watts graduated from Harper Adams University with a first-class honours degree.

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