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Andrew Lambert

Andrew Lambert on surveying the market

By Andrew Lambert

Director, Property & Surveying specialist recruiter

Like many in the recruitment industry, Andrew Lambert started out working for a large corporate firm, an experience which fostered his extensive expertise in the industry in both the UK, and Australia where he lived and worked for five years.

Recognising a need for specialised recruitment in the property industry, particularly in building surveying roles, Andrew and business partner Alison Longdin established PPR (Property Partners Recruitment).

Celebrating three years of the business next month, Andrew explains how their specialist boutique agency is recruiting for, and promoting, the property sector across the South of England.

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What are the four different facets of surveying that you specialise in recruiting for?

Building surveying makes up 75% of our work. It covers residential surveys for people buying a house; the residential market has gone bonkers, so that's really busy. There are also Building Surveyors who look after commercial properties.

We then cover project management, which is appointing Project Managers to oversee any major project. It could be a school refurbishment, a new build industrial unit, or an extension for a home.

We also deal with general practice surveying which is quite broad. It includes agents in a commercial environment selling office buildings or industrial estates. It also covers commercial valuations and property management: the ongoing management of commercial properties and assets.

The last one is quantity surveying, which is essentially managing costs of various projects.

What qualifications and skills are needed for the roles you’re recruiting for?

For project management, the MAPM is an appropriate qualification but it’s also possible to be a project manager and not necessarily have that qualification. The rest of the roles we recruit for are chartered with the RICS. Becoming a member of the RICS is the qualification that's really sought after. If you become chartered, then all of your options open up dramatically.

In terms of softer skills, it depends on the different facets. Building Surveyors tend to be more technical detail people. Written and verbal communication for all of the roles is really important because there is a need to write very detailed reports. And across all of it, I think one thing we're seeing more of a need for is the ability to win business. Particularly for more senior roles, companies are looking for people who are able to negotiate and build on opportunities.

Can you give some insight into what's happening in the property sector on the South Coast right now?

It's really manic; there are a lot of jobs and not enough candidates. It's always been that way, COVID slowed things down for a few months but because we're linked to construction which in the main carried on, it picked back up within six months and now it's as busy as I can remember in 15 years in terms of demand for staff. The biggest challenge for us is finding surveyors; there's a real skills shortage within the market at the moment.

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How are you trying to address that skills shortage in the industry?

It’s something I’ve started to do more of. I’ve done some speeches regarding getting into the industry; I’m trying to actively promote surveying as a profession. I’ve spoken with some colleges about the challenges. Promoting the sector is something that, as a business and individually, I want to continue to do more of.

The biggest challenge I see is that at the school level, surveying as an industry is not promoted well enough. Had I known all the different areas of surveying when I was at school, I probably wouldn’t be recruiting in surveying, I would be in surveying because I’ve always had an interest in property.

I have daily conversations about the skills shortage and the lack of people at graduate level getting into the industry. We’re trying to promote the industry and speak to apprentices and people like that to try and help to bridge some of that gap.

What are your connections with industry bodies like RICS?

We sponsor some events with RICS and RICS Matrics which supports the up-and-coming surveyors entering the profession. We do events with them, and we’ve collaborated with some CPD for members.

At a local level, there’s the SPA which is the Southampton Property Association. We sponsor some events with them which helps us to be well-connected in the local surveying community.

"The biggest challenge for us is finding surveyors; there's a real skills shortage within the market at the moment."

How did your experience of working and living in Australia differ from the UK?

In terms of the recruitment industry, I would say it is much more valued in Australia. Recruitment is held in higher regard than in the UK, because over here recruitment is completely oversaturated as an industry, there are a lot of terrible recruiters out there, so you’ve got to get over that barrier and build trust with clients over time.

In terms of the wider context, I think the one thing that I really liked about Australia was that they have a different work-life balance philosophy. They work hard but they don’t necessarily stress like we do about work. They go to work, but then they finish, go to the beach, exercise and switch off. I think work is very much more dominant in society here; everyone’s trying to climb the ladder. Australians don’t take anything too seriously, which is a nice way to be.

What are you listening to reading or watching at the moment?

I’m quite keen on different documentaries. I like sports documentaries, the best thing I’ve watched in the last year or so was the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance, which is amazing.

I’ve just finished watching Clarkson’s Farm. I wasn’t a fan of Jeremy Clarkson in Top Gear but in this he clearly knows his stuff about the environment and he isn’t just a petrolhead; it’s very funny as well in places.

"One thing we're seeing more of a need for is the ability to win business. Particularly for more senior roles, companies are looking for people who are able to negotiate and build on opportunities."

Andrew Lambert - Director, Property & Surveying specialist recruiter