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The need for professional education in the built environment sector

– Amol Shimpi MRICS, Associate Dean and Director, School of Real Estate RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University Mumbai 

A research report published recently by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), “Real Estate and Construction Professionals in India by 2020” highlighted significant skills deficit across specialised domains of the built environment sector such as planning, architecture, civil engineering, quantity surveying, project management, facility management, valuation etc. The gap was projected to be getting wider in the foreseeable future with the inadequate response of the Indian education sector. The findings on skill gaps in the built environment sector was also captured and reflected in the report by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), GOI titled “Human Resource and Skill Requirements in the Building, Construction and Real Estate”.

The real estate and construction sector in India is likely to face an acute skills shortage (expected to reach 44 million by 2022) across all levels thus making this one of the most sought-after career options. Currently, there is a demand-supply gap of 82-86 percent in the number of professionals and the skill sets for the key professions in this industry.

A skills gap analysis conducted by NSDC concluded that the areas of legal knowledge and government regulations, networking and liaising skills, language proficiency, financial knowledge, project planning and management skills including applications and use of project management software, facilities management, sales, marketing and customer relationship management etc. would need to be strengthened in order to meet the requirements of the economy. Skills deficiency in the workforce in economy leads to sub-optimal outcomes for all stakeholders. Existing professionals in the industry may therefore not be able to make ‘intelligent’ and optimal choices relating to managing businesses and business outcomes.

India being a large economy, with a huge population and substantial demographic dividend offers immense opportunities for development and growth.

Given the forecasts for overall economic growth and growth for the built environment sector, substantial skill enhancement is required to build a skilled and productive workforce. The industry and academia must correspondingly look into developing methods and courses for addressing the strong skill set demand by creating competent professionals.

An industry-led academic institution is one such initiative that has been set up to exclusively addresses the needs of the built environment. The students of such industry-led institutions should not only receive a niche opportunity to build a much sought-after career in various sectors of built environment but also should be able to join the global work force. They should be confident of managing projects with huge investments and look forward to attractive pay packages coupled with growth opportunities in Industry. The students must be exposed to industry-oriented coursework, work on assignments linked with industry problems; undertake live case studies followed by intensive internship, in India or abroadleading to a final placement. The students should also focus on extra-curricular and co-curricular activities to enhance their leadership and networking skills as the industry needs leaders rather than managers, ready to take on the challenges from Day 1.

As far as career prospects are concerned, the aspirants can look forward to diverse roles in valuation, appraisal or credit management, facilities management, construction project management, development and management of real estate, business development, advisory and transactions, property management and technical due-diligence verticals.

The built environment sector is presently on the lookout for candidates who can work under financial, time and labour constraints. The industry-led institutions should adopt Education 4.0 which is a desired approach to learning that aligns itself with the emerging fourth industrial revolution. This industrial revolution focuses on smart technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics — all of which now impact our daily lives. To cope with the demands of Industry 4.0, students must be equipped with cutting edge professional skills and should be well versed with technology with Big Data (interpretation and analysis) in real-time scenario.

With industry-academia alignment, employability of built environment graduates is not the key concern; the main concern is how rapidly highly skilled professionals can be supplied to the industry. With the emergence of schools of built environment, a win-win situation is created wherein companies need not incur additional cost for training raw talent. Meanwhile, aspirants can look forward to starting their own entrepreneurial ventures in the built environment space after gaining hands-on experience as an employee.

Also read: The soaring demand for built environment professionals in the post-Covid-19 era

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, and opinions of EducationWorld.

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