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Let’s Bring Fresh Talent into Real Estate

By Ken Morgan, master, Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors

England’s schools went back last week – and many of you might have noticed a strange noise on that Monday morning as thousands of homeschooling parents breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But as our great homeschooling experiment draws to a close once more, many parents will be left counting the cost of the most prolonged disruptions to education since the Second World War.

Indeed, while many young people have been fortunate in escaping the physical symptoms of Covid-19, in other respects the effect of the pandemic has been more acutely felt.

In the UK, there has been a surge in the numbers of young people – particularly those from a disadvantaged background – struggling with mental health issues. A survey conducted earlier this year by UK charity Young Minds found 75 per cent of respondents felt they had found the current lockdown harder to cope with than previous ones.

The inability to see friends as well as family has had a deep and lasting effect, while uncertainty about the future has further fuelled anxiety. In June last year, the Resolution Foundation reported that 9 per cent of 18-24-year-olds had lost their jobs altogether – the highest figure out of all age groups.

Many are still locked out of full employment, and with a recent survey by the Social Mobility Commission finding that over half the public believe the pandemic will lead to greater social inequality, we should all be concerned about the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the prospects and prosperity of our young people.

Within this context, it is critically important that we as an industry step up to play our part and find new ways to bring in talent from less advantaged and non-traditional backgrounds.

In recent years our sector has made great progress in increasing diversity in the workplace – but as last September’s Bridge Group report shows, it could go much further

Now is the right time to correct this. At the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors we want to make meaningful progress so that more young people from less advantaged and non-traditional backgrounds can achieve that first step in a property career.

Last year we set up a life-changing programme of real estate bursaries run in partnership with Pathways to Property to help students achieve their career goals.

We are running the bursary programme again this year and have already secured four Champions to commit to funding Bursaries. These are international real estate consultancy Hollis, pan-European investor and asset manager M7 Real Estate, private property investor and developer Dunmoore Group and leading social impact and specialist private markets investor, Bridges Fund Management.

Each will provide a student with work experience and mentoring, plus an annual £10K bursary for three years of living expenses while at university.

Our aim is to create a diverse and inclusive property industry by giving financial support and guidance to students, who would like to study for a real estate degree but whose personal circumstances mean they are unable to attend university.

We are seeking at least another eight property businesses from across the sector to become ‘Champions’ and fund a further eight university places commencing in September 2021.

Talent is evenly spread across society, but opportunity is not. As the statistics show, this issue will only get worse following the pandemic.

The Chartered Surveyors’ Bursaries represent an opportunity to really make a difference, not only to the lives of gifted students and their families, but also to support the future health of the property industry as a whole.

We hope more people will come forward to help to bring more fresh talent into our industry, and support young lives disrupted by Covid-19.