LABC is seeing a huge increase in signups for structured training and qualifications

29.04.2019
News
Woman using a virtual learning environment to develop her career skills

For years, people were talking about how building control surveying was facing a demographic time bomb, with an ageing workforce and far greater numbers leaving the profession than joining as new recruits.

There were dozens of articles written and many discussions across the profession about the lack of interest in surveying generally and building control more specifically. It wasn't seen as a sexy career, and certainly not as attractive as becoming an architect or an engineer.

But all that has changed. Local Authority Building Control (LABC) is now seeing a significant increase in new recruitment, with the total number of surveyors and technicians rising by more than 400 in recent years and a huge interest shown by those signing up for the new structured training and qualifications.

Building control in the media

Undoubtedly, the renewed attention on building control and standards over the past 18 months has helped. The media, television and mainstream press have started to mention the discipline, and in the public sector there is now greater acknowledgement of its vital role as well as a recognition that it must be properly resourced and supported.

LABC is making it easier for employers in the public sector to do so through our commitment to developing our own surveyors rather than simply recruiting graduates with degrees in other subjects. Our qualification pathway – set up in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Building and the University of Wolverhampton – allows flexible levels of entry from Level 4 diploma up to Level 6 degree, the latter of which attracts apprenticeship levy funding (see Building Control Journal April/May 2018, pp.18–19).

Surveying has traditionally been one of the most male-dominated professions, but we are now finding that even this gender bias is being turned around. Our boot camps are always a good indicator of who's joining the profession, and 40 per cent of surveyors participating in a recent residential workshop were female. The main reason for this turnaround has been LABC's continued investment in standards and competencies. This has included the introduction of a national ISO-accredited quality management system, with most local authority teams now either fully accredited or well on the way there.

Virtual learning environment for training and personal development

LABC has introduced level 6A Fire Safety Specialist certification in association with the Institution of Fire Engineers and rigorous fire safety assessments for its most experienced surveyors. A new virtual learning environment – an online resource for LABC's 3,500 surveyors and technical staff – also offers more than 200 hours of learning in more than 100 different courses. It is removing barriers to attracting and training new recruits by making it easier for them to take part in training and personal development and improve and evidence their competencies.

The online platform contains almost all the courses a surveyor will need to develop their career in building control, covering subjects from agile working to working at height. The system automatically tracks individual learning, books training courses and updates personal development plans. Apart from formal accredited qualifications, all these courses are free of charge for LABC surveyors and technicians as well.

Standards and competency

LABC is committed to the highest standards, and is constantly seeking ways to measure the competency of our surveyors so those in public service building control can more easily develop their skills. The initial feedback we're getting is extremely encouraging, and we're confident that, because of the online resource's ease of use and quality of learning, we'll see a strong uptake from our building control teams. This will in turn further increase confidence in public-service building control.

In a demonstration of LABC's commitment to the future generation of surveyors, Bhavesh Patel from Hertfordshire Building Control was recently named LABC Trainee of the Year. The competition was extremely fierce, with excellent candidates nominated, and this only goes to show the strength developing at all levels among our LABC surveyors around the country.

This article was written by Anna Thompson, Head of Business Development (Local Marketing) at LABC and originally published in the RICS Built Environment Journal, April/May 2019, pp. 43.

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