While I have often bemoaned the quality of new surveyors entering our profession, and wonder if there has been a gradual dumbing down of our education and training programmes, a trend is emerging that is making me think that my early suspicions are correct.
My experience in liaising with some of the newly-qualified Building Control Officers working for local authorities has not been encouraging. The ‘gap’ that appears in their knowledge compared to Approved Inspectors is noticeable. Perhaps that is understandable. Approved Inspectors often have decades of experience under their belts. But this experience comes at a price, and that means that when a customer is faced with a choice between a BCO and and AI, he opts for the former as the cheaper option. But somewhere down the line, someone ends up paying for this lack of expertise.
When the likes of Zurich, Build-Zone, BLP and others have engaged with a high quality AI to undertake a warranty inspection, but the inspector’s findings are disputed by the BCO, chaos ensues. Projects are delayed, often at considerable cost and frustration to the developers, and the knock-on effect throughout the rest of the supply chain can be disastrous.
Our Institution is very alive to the need to train the next generation to the high standards we have enjoyed previously. It is also aware of the huge loss that our industry faced in the last recession, losing a good many men and women to other industries, or many simply taking early retirement.
Our future challenge is therefore two-fold: firstly, how do we inspire school children today that our industry is a worthwhile and attractive profession; and secondly, how do we maintain standards at a level that ensures the integrity of our profession is maintained. It is time for some radical thinking.