The Changing Face of the Property Industry and Why it Needs You!

As many surveyors look set to make a retirement exodus, the surveying profession faces a severe shortage of future surveyors. Based on the RICS most recent membership data and assuming retirement somewhere between 65 and 68, 28% of all UK chartered surveyors will reach retirement age in the next 5-7 years and a further 26% are not far behind them. In total, a whopping 78% of RICS surveyors are now 40 or over. Clearly, attracting a new generation to the surveying profession is critical but equally so is the challenge of diversity and the issue of implanting the idea of surveying as a career option into the minds of those still at school or college. All too often people think surveying means estate agency or construction sites.

The RICS website shows that there are currently 75,805 RICS surveyors registered (and presumably working) across the UK. Up only marginally from the last available data taken from the results of membership surveys carried out in July 2014 and December 2013, when the figures were 75,323 (for further information see the table at the bottom of this page).

If we look at a snapshot of the data gathered from these surveys, 37% are following the ‘Property’ pathway, 34% ‘Construction’, 6% ‘Land’ and an intriguing 23% are following ‘Other’ pathways (let us know in the comments below if you can throw any light of what these 17,000+ UK based surveyors are doing). More significantly, 54% of this working population is over 50 and females make up only 12% of the 75,323 total. For comparison, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that over a similar period, only around 23% of the UK’s total working population is 50+ and a split between male and female workers of approximately 55% versus 45% respectively. Unfortunately further direct analysis is difficult, as whilst the RICS uses a similar geographical split to the ONS studies, it unfortunately uses different age bands.

If we break it down region by region, London, with 17,330 members and the South East, with 12,915 members make up over 40% of the UK’s surveyors. In London, 48% are following the ‘Property’ pathway, 30% ‘Construction’, 4% ‘Land’ and 18% are following ‘Other’ pathways.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the number of young graduates in the city, London is the region that produces both the highest proportion of female surveyors, although still only 15%, and the highest proportion of surveyors aged 49 or younger (61%), compared to 39% who are 50+.

Whilst this is less than impressive, the age profiles of the other regions fare even less favourably. In the South East, the second largest region, only 35% of members are 49 or younger, whilst 65% are rapidly heading towards retirement age. In the East region 64% of surveyors are 50+, similarly in the South West, 39% are 49 or under and 61% 50 or over. Wales, has fewer surveyors but the same proportions. The East Midlands fares little better, with the over 50’s accounting for 58% of the regions surveyors. In the North the numbers improve slightly: in Scotland, the North East, Yorkshire & Humberside and the West Midlands, 54% are 50 or over, in the North West 53% and the figure drops to 49% in Northern Ireland.

With an average 54% of UK surveyors aged 50 and over, it means that over half may well have less than 15-18 years left at work. Conversely, only 22% are aged 39 or under, presumably meaning that unless there is a massive recruitment drive, the profession faces a significant shortage of UK surveyors. Unfortunately the stats available don’t provide a breakdown of the huge variety of professions that fall within the ‘property’, ‘construction’ and ‘land’ pathways, in order that we can grasp the scale of the problem across sectors nor do they indicate when members intend to retire.

If this trend continues, by 2040, we could see an almost 50% reduction in the number of practicing surveyors. Now admittedly technological advantages will undoubtedly make their influence on producing a more efficient model that decreases man hours. However, these savings in efficiency are unlikely to impact on professional decision making so much that it completely fills the void. In addition, as numbers drop, the mentors and teachers who serve our generation so well, will also dwindle.

Surveyors are now multi-talented professional people working as facilitators whose careers are made through the provision of value added knowledge and services. If, like us, you are embarking upon or thinking about a career in surveying, whether as an apprentice or as a graduate, then the RICS could be yours for the taking in the not too distant future. Join us now at studentsurveyor.com to find out more.

If you think you can help us in our quest to level the playing field and raise awareness of the huge variety of options a career in property can offer, please do not hesitate to contact us. Just click on the floating envelop in the bottom right hand side of the screen.

RICS Membership Survey

AreaTotal Member'sFRICSMRICSAssocRICSMaleFemale20-29 yrs 30-39 yrs40-49 yrs50-59 yrs 60+ yrsProperty PathwayLand PathwayConstruction PathwayOther Pathway
UK Total75,32323%73%4%88%12%5%17%24%26%28%37%6%34%23%
Scotland6,31124%72%4%88%12%5%17%24%26%28%37%6%34%23%
Northern Ireland1,52117%80%3%87%13%5%21%25%23%26%38%2%41%19%
North East1,90922%74%4%88%12%4%17%25%27%27%35%9%34%22%
Yorkshire & Humber4,44623%73%4%89%11%5%16%25%27%27%40%8%30%22%
East Midlands4,15525%69%6%89%11%4%13%25%28%30%36%10%29%25%
East5,58328%67%5%90%10%4%12%20%28%36%30%7%37%26%
North West6,88021%75%4%89%11%4%17%26%27%26%36%5%39%20%
Wales2,31123%72%5%90%10%2%13%24%25%36%34%7%33%26%
West Midlands5,51623%73%4%87%13%4%16%26%26%28%38%7%34%21%
London17,33018%80%2%85%15%9%26%26%23%16%48%4%30%18%
South West6,44630%67%3%89%11%3%13%23%25%36%32%9%32%27%
South East12,915306559010311%21%27%38%31%5%37%27%

RICS Map

6 Comments
  1. Rebecca Newson 2 years ago

    Interesting! I can’t see the female statistic changing too quickly. Although is about 40:60 at my work, my uni year and the three years below me were only about 10-15% female.

  2. Hamish McKenzie 2 years ago

    ?? Hope that means there’s loads of jobs!

  3. Rebecca Newson 2 years ago

    I love the site @sambrown, @alexc. It would be interesting to see an article on the different sectors in surveying, to help when choosing what to do.

    • Sam Brown 2 years ago

      Thanks Rebecca! I am looking into getting some video interviews with senior figures in different sectors soon, so hopefully that should be of interest! Meanwhile, feel free to submit an article to the site and get it published.

  4. Jess Stormont Parker 6 months ago

    Think I may pinch that last paragraph for my job applications!

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