10 MAY 2018
The future is digital and as more of our daily tasks are automated, the value we bring to the profession is the experience and judgement we have earned in our careers.
When it comes to the next generation of industry professionals, it is up to us to ensure they are learning the skills they need to continue our work. To this end, we’re working closely with industry leaders, academics and universities through The American Real Estate Society (ARES).
ARES is an organization for real estate and construction academics bringing together programs from across the Americas, and around the world, to present technical papers and debate the issues relevant to academics, students and the built environment. ARES has sister organizations globally and RICS is well placed with a number of these to ensure that we have a voice in educating future built environment professionals. ARES also enables us to position the RICS brand as a thought leader, not only in education but the higher order issues facing the profession.
RICS renewed its affiliation with ARES about five years back when we were refreshing our approach to university relationships. Since then, we’ve evolved both how we work with universities and our partnership with ARES. We are now focused on aligning with programs that are key to our employers and in the markets/cities that are priorities for our market strategy. In the past, we had simply accredited universities for their programs, but acting as a bridge between universities and employers helps all parties involved, especially the next generation of built environment professionals. Our active role at ARES includes my role as a board member and organizing a Critical Issues Seminar.
Held during the annual ARES conference, the Critical Issues Seminar offers the opportunity to bridge the gap between the profession and academia through discourse. The seminar dissects the issues critical to the sustainable growth of the profession including skills development (leadership and communications as well as technical skills), technology disruption (AI, the use of big data) and externalities affecting the industry (globalization, populism).
On the ARES board, we’re debating how to meet the needs of a changing industry and how to ensure that education is relevant in the 21st century and beyond. This is very familiar to our own strategic debate as a professional body. The future of the profession is less about measuring (space, costs or value) since much of that can and will be automated, but our role is to act as professional advisors to clients and end users, while ensuring that the public interest is protected.
Academia for the built environment remains focused on siloed technical skills. We see permanence only in the programs that build understanding of the holistic life cycle of the built environment rather than programs with a narrow focus like finance, development, construction and management. ARES is trying to help academia evolve to this approach in the very same way that RICS is trying to help professionals adjust to this new world. Things that matter for the profession today may not matter in the future. Skills like curiosity, verbal and written communications and collaborative working are increasingly more important for the next generation professionals. As the industry changes rapidly, so should their ability to adapt.
Sitting in the ARES board meeting and the Critical Issues Seminar recently, I reflected on our own strategy of building the RICS brand across the Americas, but also the challenge to RICS globally with an ever-changing profession. A number of panels at ARES debated the best way forward for industry organizations and academia to collaborate on the future of the profession. It was no coincidence that several weeks later, I found myself listening to Governing Council strategizing about the very same things.
Our affiliation with ARES builds the RICS brand but also gives us invaluable insight into where to focus our efforts in attracting the next generation of built environment professionals. It’s also clear that globally RICS is leading the change that is so necessary for this profession to survive an era of dramatic change. If we are to attract the best and brightest to the built environment, it’s clear that we need to embrace and lead the change that we want to see in the world. No profession is better positioned to do that than ours.