The rapid advancement of technology is impacting the day to day role of professionals working in the built environment sector, which in turn is changing the skills profile necessary for those entering the industry.

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Part of the current role of professionals is likely to be automated by new technologies such as AI, with some manual, repetitive tasks disappearing all together.

This is a trend that will prevail regardless of discipline or geographical location, and far from being isolated to professionals operating in our industry, can be seen across a multitude of different Professions around the globe.

What does the future professional look like and how should the education system change to ensure they have the skills required to succeed? What does this mean for those people already working within the built environment sector, at both entry level and board level? We asked several industry experts for their views:

What skills will be required?

Technology will continue to change the landscape in which professionals operate and the skills required will evolve to meet new professional requirements. Less emphasis will be placed on learning ‘formulas’; instead, there will be an emphasis on learning how to use the programmes that will automate standard processes and analysing the data to generate meaningful information.

The traditional knowledge base will be supplemented with digital skills including:

  • Programming
  • Coding
  • Data analytics
  • Cyber-security

The “Human Aspect” of the role will become increasingly important. Whilst technology can enhance and augment human decision making in the short term, it will not replace critical thinking, creativity, empathy and the ability to engage others.

The key skill sets of the future we will be around:

  • Client engagement
  • Human interaction
  • Data and technology
We need to learn what the core of being human is. The more routines robots take care of, the more important social relationships and soft skills become.

Developing the right skills

It will not only be incumbent on junior professionals to develop their skillsets; senior professionals will also be required to continue learning throughout adulthood. Continuing professional development is becoming increasingly imperative to ensure organisations are making the best possible use of technology and offering clients the highest value propositions.

There are mentorships opportunities for professionals to help each other harness the skills required in the industry – both the softer front of house skills and the digital skills needed. This isn’t about age but ensuring the right skills are being developed. RICS could formalise a way of doing this.

To many people entering the profession today, the use of technology will be second nature. They will already be at ease with multiple technologies, and will expect technology to be embedded in every aspect of their professional lives. For those in senior positions, with a more traditional educational path and skillset, an understanding of the technologies and their applications will be vital. This is perhaps where both groups can learn from each other.

It is increasingly critical for organisations to focus on human-centric innovation and improving the human experience to tackle the existential risks facing our species.

It is important that educators and regulators like RICS ensure that not only are the pathways into the profession relevant but that there is continuing education for those further along in their careers. They also have a part to play in formally promoting mentorships and collaborations between the traditional property and technology sectors.

The more collaboration we can foster, the better.

Attracting new talent

Attracting new talent may present the sector with a challenge over the coming years. Highly skilled technology professionals will be sought after in almost every sector; how will the built environment build and maintain its appeal?

We must continue to work towards promoting a better image of the profession.
Surveying is a fantastic opportunity within a global industry; it is a quality profession. We need to showcase this.
Driving through the city, built environment professionals can say "I was a part of that and that" and compared to a lot of industries that is very exciting. We need to communicate this.

The built environment is where we live, work and play, and there is the potential to build a career that will make a real impact in the communities and environment that you see around you. The promotion of this message will be fundamental in attracting the talent of the future.

The diversity of the role is very appealing; we must start highlighting this to people when they’re choosing their career.
Property has permanence, there is a career here and an industry you can stay in for a long time.

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