9th December 2022
When the Building Safety Act came into force earlier this year, the construction sector heralded its arrival and the sweeping changes that it would see to ensure the safety of building occupants following the Grenfell Enquiry. However, with the creation of a new Building Safety Regulator, the building control industry should be in an ideal position to secure the long term survival of the sector, its personnel and its skills. John Miles, Group Business Director at Assent Building Control, disagrees with this and puts an alternative perspective on the future of building surveyors following the publishing of the BSR’s draft competency framework.
“The new draft competency framework from the Building Safety Regulator has been sent out to industry for feedback. It makes for challenging reading at times as requirements are often confused and out of sync in the document that has been provided. However, once the information is digested we can see a potential issue that could mean a considerable challenge for the building control sector.
Within the framework it sets out the competencies required for surveyors, complex surveyors and managers. The level of competency for managers is, in some areas, lower than that required from complex surveyors (who need level 4 across the board). Whilst this is not unusual in our industry (a manager can be responsible for a team of inspectors who are more qualified in complex projects), it could see a situation where an existing manager is required to upskill in order to continue to do the oversight role that they are currently carrying out.
Our industry is already facing an alarming skills shortage and the average age of a building control surveyor is increasing. This already puts a huge strain on the sector through natural losses due to retirements. The draft framework could create the perfect storm for many of those who are already considering a move away from the sector either into a different job or into early retirement. For managers who find themselves in a position of needing to upskill to continue in their role there are really only three choices: do the necessary training to continue working, change their role to that of a basic surveyor and continue to work or leave the profession. Even worse they could stifle progression in their teams as a way of avoiding their own additional competence assessments.
Whilst the BSR is right to be focused on levelling the playing field as far as competency is concerned, we could find ourselves hemorrhaging talent due to the new, and sometimes difficult to interpret, requirements of the framework. At a time where the industry is already struggling to cope with demand and is finding attracting new talent challenging, are we creating a bigger problem with pathways which are two tiered?”
So the question now is whether you agree with John – will the framework as it stands cause the industry even more challenges than it is already facing OR will those skilled surveyors simply buckle up and get on with doing the necessary work to upskill to achieve the new framework? We would be interested to hear your views to understand the general sentiment within the industry about the challenges that lie ahead.