25 percent of APC assessors are women, but why aren’t they more visible?
I joined Homes England as a planning and development surveyor in 2014 following 10 years as a consultant with Deloitte. I have been a final interview assessor for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) for the last 7 years and in 2017 I qualified as an interview chairperson.
This article is about why I became an interview assessor, what the benefits of becoming an assessor are and why it is important for the industry as a whole for more women to become involved.
I’m going to assume that you are aware of the APC and am not going to go through the ins and outs of the assessment process. If you would like more information, this can be found on the RICS website.
Why did I become an assessor?
It’s time away from the office, its extra work for me and I don’t get paid for it, so why do I do it? Believe it or not, I genuinely wanted to give something back to the industry. When I was a graduate surveyor, I was fortunate enough to have a very supportive employer who helped me qualify as soon as I could and I found the whole experience very positive. I wanted to be able to do the same for others.
I started out as a mentor within my own organisation and APC doctor for external candidates. This meant being available to help anyone that wanted some advice. Becoming an interview assessor was a natural progression of this role. Training as an interview assessor also gave me the skills and insight in to the final assessment process to support anyone (internally or externally) interested in obtaining RICS membership.
I continue to be involved because I genuinely enjoy it. I’ve met some fantastic people and it’s always interesting to hear the broad range of projects that candidates are involved in – a reminder that there is a world outside my own little bubble. Of course, it is also excellent CPD.
As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I feel a responsibility to be a visible role model both within my own organisation and externally and encourage more women to get involved in the APC process whenever possible.
Approximately 25 per cent of interview assessors are women, broadly in line with the profile of candidates coming forward for final assessment. However the turnout rate at final assessment for female assessors is only 25 per cent – significantly below the male turn out rate. This equates to a very small percentage of female assessors actually sitting on interview panels, and therefore female assessors and chair’s (of which only 10% are women) lack visibility.
I won’t speculate about the reasons for this, although some female assessors may identify with my own circumstances. I am currently on maternity leave and intend to return to work on a reduced hours basis. By the time I return to work, I will have missed four assessment sessions. I will struggle to justify the time out of the office when working part time and even if I could, there is still the preparation time, outside of work hours, that I would need to balance with my family life. There are also the physical practicalities of getting to the assessment venue. My pathway is only assessed at Heathrow, near London, England. This means a 350-mile round trip, requiring a minimum of one overnight stay and 24+ hours away from home. This was fine when I was commitment free as I could tie in catching up with friends, but this is now not practical with a young family. Frustratingly, the nearest assessment centre to me is a mere 40 miles away but my pathway isn’t assessed at this venue.
If we want to bring more people into the industry and increase RICS membership, we need to build the capacity in the process for more candidates to come forward for final assessment and make the process for assessors as easy and convenient as possible. RICS are intending to survey all interview assessors this year to try and understand and address the major challenges identified to influence the future of APC final assessments.
For RICS members who aren’t currently assessors and feel that they would like to get involved, please find out more about training . If being a final interview assessor isn’t for you, there are many other supporting roles either within your own organisation or externally including mentoring; supervising; or counselling. Further guidance and training can be found on the RICS website.
For existing interview assessors, if, for whatever reason you aren’t able to commit to undertaking final assessment interviews, there are several alternative roles that may be of interest. Such as associate assessor and preliminary reviewer both roles that can be done at home; or auditor, where there is apparently less preparation time and more flexibility. Please also respond honestly and in detail to the RICS survey on barriers to turn out, when it is published later this year.
Personally, I really want to stay involved in the final assessment process, but at the moment, with a young family, I can’t commit to final interview assessment. I’m seriously going to consider training as an associate assessor or preliminary assessor this year.
Remember that your commitment to supporting candidates through the training and assessment process not only helps the industry, but it also supports someone just getting started in their career!
LinkedIn: Hannah Waite
Website: Homes England