Advice and Opinion Research

Needs and numbers: industry skills highlighted at the 2015 SAPOA Convention

In light of the increasing need for skills development and transformation in the property sector, SAPOA delved into industry skills at its Annual International Convention and Property Exhibition in Durban.

With skills development as a key Property Sector Transformation Charter pillar and priority element, it’s imperative for the commercial property industry to address issues pertaining to skills shortages and transformation within the sector.

Acknowledging this, SAPOA undertook research to determine the capacity and skills development needs relating to skills throughout the industry. The full report and an implementable skills plan was released at Convention.

The online research survey was conducted in order to determine the skills development needs of commercial property practitioners and built environment professionals as well as to measure if the current pool of students and graduates being absorbed into the industry increases the efficiency of the workplace.

Presented by Nontokozo Nene, African Training Academy and School of Auctioneers, the research indicates that it is evident that South Africa’s property practitioners and built environment profession have a critical shortage of capacitated and skilled labourers – this shortage is particularly scarce among construction and project managers and valuers.

Furthermore, there is a shortage of mentors as well as a failure to promote the property profession as a career and the glamorous appeal of the other career options relative to the real estate sector.

“If we are going to try and address the industry’s challenges, we need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the skills gap within the property sector,” says Head of STANLIB Direct Property Investments and SAPOA President, Amelia Beattie.

Beattie highlights that SAPOA has long recognised that the industry’s workforce needs to be future-ready and that the widening skills gap needs to be addressed now more than ever. Through SAPOA’s Bursary Fund, the organisation endeavours to raise money for the upskilling of students in the property industry.

“We need to continue to mobilise corporate citizenship arms of our members, to help ensure that the skills gap in our industry is addressed,” notes Beattie.

“We are thankful for the sponsorships but we need more funds to really make an impact on the skills shortages. SAPOA, on behalf of the commercial property industry, makes an appeal to all its member companies to join our current sponsors and make sponsorships and donations to our bursary scheme,” says SAPOA Chief Executive Officer Neil Gopal.

Beattie believes that education is a powerful tool that can make a meaningful difference to transformation. SAPOA’s skills development initiatives could provide a focused solution for the transformation area of skills development by enabling members to channel spend to a recognised education programme.