Food for thought from ‘Skills gap for breakfast!’

Food for thought from ‘Skills gap for breakfast!’

Traditional job roles and established ways of training and recruiting in property no longer cut the mustard.


Earlier this year the BCO commissioned a report that found a mismatch between the training and attitude of property professionals to deal with an increasingly service driven industry. A  lack of data means the skills gap is hard to quantify but the call for a more diverse workforce can be heard across all sectors of property.  The report also set out a series of recommendations, number one - CREATE MOMENTUM, which is exactly what this Experience Makers event intended to do!


‘Skills gap for breakfast!’ hosted by founder partners MAPP, put words into action. Experience Makers and a mix of 'CX Diamonds' from hospitality, build to rent, training, recruitment and the public sector got together to share practical ways to tackle the skills gap.



Andrew Deverell Smith, CEO of Deverell Smith recruitment talked about creating the right employee brand. He is also a big fan of competency based assessment interviews which value aptitude over name checking and help spot the best talent coming in from outside industries. It shocked some of us round the breakfast table to hear him also say, that some firms have stopped recruiting surveyors for new roles...



- Lesley Roberts, BTR expert at Allsop began her illustrious career in hospitality (then, mining). She reminded us of the importance for property professionals to have the technical ability down to a tee - but that doesn’t mean a one trick pony. In Lesley’s experience, finding ways to motivate and reward staff for developing with you is key to retention.



Sebastian Moritz, founder of Moricon, a London-based consultancy which sets up bespoke hospitality and service delivery during the pre-opening phase of BTR development, also warned that it’s not as simple as taking someone from hospitality and plopping them into a building. There’s specific expertise and knowledge required. Not least, how to prepare personnel to deal with expectations from the customers, occupiers and other people in the industry about what their role involves. Sebastian did however attest, that it’s easier to train the technical stuff to those naturally gifted in affability and empathy for the customer, rather than the other way round.



Chris Coleman Brown, founder of Aletheia, a place experience consultancy, and Client Strategy Director for Cureoscity asked us to look at the problem from a different angle. He disputes the notion of a skills gap. Suggesting instead that it's to do with focus and resource, he compels companies to ask ‘What is your customer-centric strategy and what do you need to deliver it? This includes training and retaining employees.' Discussion with Chris also focussed on the important question -  'How should these vital changes be paid for?'



Helen Goodwin from Public Practice also offered us a different perspective. Anthropologist turned architect, and now Placement Manager at the social enterprise company, Helen brokers relationships with local authorities to place built environment professionals, including surveyors, in training and secondment placements in the public sector.  She believes that useful transferrable skills can be gained from stepping outside one’s comfort zone after training or mid-career, to work with different teams and objectives.



Perhaps the most hard hitting comments came from Rob Stark, Strategy and Operations Executive Director at MAPP.  His role, and that of his teams, depends on looking ahead and being prepared. Delivering great Customer Experience is not just an issue for our industry. Making comparisons with the recent demise of Thomas Cook, Rob warned us of the danger of doing the same old thing in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive environment.



What started as a session intended to share practical solutions for training staff, turned into a passionate debate on the need to affect change across the industry – and ideas on how to do it.

The skills gap is one of four key concepts that we address through the network. Experience Makers pledges to keep the momentum going. If you would like to be involved in the next steps, please get in touch.

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