Viewpoint: Chris Pearson

February 4, 2019

Chris Dobson talks with the chair of the RICS North East Regional Board, Chris Pearson of Gavin Black & Partners, Newcastle, about the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and its policy on skills and education

I know many young and not-so-young members of the RICS but it has taken much research before this interview to fully understand your focus on skills and education. Why is so much emphasis placed by RICS on skills and education?

Skills and education is a huge focus area for RICS as we are the world’s leading professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property, infrastructure and construction. As part of this, we ensure surveying professionals in these areas have the required knowledge, expertise and skill-set to maintain and safe-guard our built environment effectively. To ensure our profession is fit for the future, we also need to attract the right talent with the right skills – from a diverse range of backgrounds – and skills and education obviously play an imperative role here. RICS currently accredits more than 300 degrees across land, property and construction at over 50 universities throughout the UK, and it’s now possible to enter the profession through an apprenticeship.

I particularly like the principle of inspiring the next generation. How successful is this?

Our Matrics North East committee not only support new surveyors entering the profession, they also do a lot of work with schools, colleges and universities and have been very successful in encouraging students from all backgrounds to consider a career in surveying. We also have a dedicated future talent team who run various initiatives and outreach programmes. Last year, they launched an ‘Inspire Ambassadors’ programme, which offers surveyors the chance to give something back to the profession by volunteering to attend schools, universities or Chris Dobson talks with the chair of the RICS North East Regional Board, Chris Pearson of Gavin Black & Partners, Newcastle, about the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and its policy on skills and education INTERVIEW – CHRIS PEARSON 73 IN ASSOCIATION WITH: careers shows to promote the vast range of surveying careers available across the land, property and construction sectors. This has been hugely successful, and to date, we have more than 200 Inspire Ambassadors working to inspire the next generation.

What are the current opportunities to become involved with this?

We are always looking for volunteers to go to schools, universities and careers fairs to represent the profession, whether it be a one-off or a regular commitment through our Inspire Ambassadors Programme. Our Matrics North East group is also always after newly-qualified individuals to join and help spread the word about the vast range of surveying careers and opportunities available to everyone from all backgrounds.

You have just completed a very successful 150th anniversary of the RICS. As in all industries, technology is making an impact. Is the RICS up to speed with these changes?

As part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, we have run a year-long exhibition at our headquarters on Parliament Square, London, known as ‘Shaping the World, Building the Future.’ It offers a rare opportunity to see the positive impact and significant contribution surveyors have made to society over the last 150 years, both before and after technology began to advance our capabilities in the built environment. To prepare for future technological advances – in artificial intelligence, big data computing and block chain amongst many – we are conducting a Future of the Profession research project, which will reveal what skills, competencies and technologies will be essential for surveyors in the future.

Can you explain one particular challenge faced by the profession – automation? How is the RICS preparing for ‘proptech’?

We are actively encouraging our members and member firms to seek out and maximise the opportunities that prop-tech and automation presents. In addition to the Future of the Profession research I mentioned, we have also launched an insight paper (known as Artificial Intelligence in the Built Environment) which explores the impact of using artificial intelligence (AI) in the built environment. It’s free to download on our website ( and weighs up the positives and negatives of AI and automation, and how companies should deal with them. We also continue to speak at, and host, regular events all over the UK on property technology, to help ensure our industry professionals have the knowledge and competencies to adapt and tackle future market challenges with confidence.

Continual professional development is another important educational area. What is the purpose of CPD?

We have an obligation to regulate and monitor members’ compliance with our rules on CPD, which require all chartered surveyors to complete 20 hours of CPD per year. As part of this, we offer a vast range of training and events, including lowcost seminars, webinars and free ‘Stay Informed Days’, which all count as CPD.

My final question concerns Pride in the Profession initiatives; why have these been introduced?

We launched our Pride in the Profession initiative as part of our 150th anniversary activities to celebrate and raise awareness of the most influential surveyors from over the last 150 years who have had a significant and positive impact on society. UK-based surveyors who have been recognised include John Longden FRICS – who founded the not-for-profit organisation Pub is The Hub, which has successfully reinvigorated hundreds of rural communities by saving, or diversifying their local pub with vital services. Meanwhile, the late John Wornham Penfold – who was a founding member of RICS – has also been recognised after designing the much-loved Victorian Penfold post box.

RICS North East


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