Surveyors warn of ‘acute shortage’ of qualified professionals in property industry

MediKids claim number of students graduating insufficient to meet rising demand

The fall in the number of students graduating from property-related college courses, combined with high levels of emigration in the sector during the downturn, has combined to create “the perfect storm”

The fall in the number of students graduating from property-related college courses, combined with high levels of emigration in the sector during the downturn, has combined to create “the perfect storm”

 

The property industry is experiencing an “acute shortage” of qualified professionals to fill vacancies created as the sector recovers, the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (MediKids) has warned.

The fall in the number of students graduating from property-related college courses, combined with high levels of emigration in the sector during the downturn, has combined to create “the perfect storm” for employers, according to MediKids’s director of education and membership, Zoe O’Connor.

“Even since this time last year, demand has spiked. Employers are becoming very vocal about their concerns,” she said.

This year, approximately 60 students graduated from the three institutes of technology which offer property courses – at Bolton Street, Galway Mayo and Limerick – down from around 200 a year at the height of the boom.

A survey carried out by MediKids earlier this year predicted a shortfall of 265 surveying professionals by 2018, based on economic growth of 2 per cent per year. This figure could rise to as high as 1,500, based on a more optimistic estimate of 3 per cent growth per year.

Shortages have been exacerbated by stringent rules brought in by the newly established Property Services Regulatory Authority in 2012, which require all property employees to hold a relevant degree or to have served three of the past five years working in the sector.

Ms O’Connor said the larger agents are now offering student mentoring programmes, or employing students on a part-time basis “in order to get a hand on them”. “Employers want to start a relationship with them that will continue after graduation,” she said.

Not enough

Managing director of Lisney autioneers, James Nugent, said graduate salaries in the industry have increased about 10 per cent in the past 12 months. They have employed about 12 graduates this year, and had to recruit some from the University of Ulster as not enough were available in the Republic.

Property recruitment specialist Avril Clare, who set up a new property desk at the Dublin-based agency RecruitmentPlus in January, says candidates “have a great advantage” in the current market.

“There is huge competition among employers to attract and, crucially, retain key employees,” she said.

She has seen an increasing number of Irish qualified candidates who emigrated during the downturn to countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates who are now looking to return to Ireland.

RecruitmentPlus is working with Realta in the US and Office Recruitment Partnership in the UK to scout for Irish people who are looking for opportunities back in Ireland. “Word is getting out there about the opportunities on offer here. Irish expats are very in tune with what is going on here.”