Building standards - workforce data collection: analysis report 2021

The report provides a national-level view of the challenges facing the building standards profession in relation to resourcing, development of competencies and levels of turnover.

16.0 Conclusions

Workforce demand

16.1. Demand for additional people in the workforce has rebounded after a slight decrease in 2020. The greatest demand is for Senior Surveyor, Assistant Surveyor, Graduate Surveyor and Technician roles. Successful recruitment into these roles would support workforce development and provide a stronger base for growing the profession in the longer term. As these roles are in junior positions it is likely that people in the early stages of their career will be attracted to apply. This will help to balance the workforce demographic.

16.2. The demand for more Senior Surveyors is a clear indicator of progression opportunities for people to move into this role. Additional Senior Surveyors would increase resilience of the service by ensuring verifiers have sufficient expertise to deal with higher risk and complex projects. The demand for people in this role could offer opportunities for existing staff to progress into a leadership position in the future.

Workforce Supply

16.3. There is no real change in the supply data and the size of the workforce remains static. However, there is a significant reduction in the number of Surveyors and lower reductions affecting Assistant Surveyors and Building Inspectors. The trend over three years shows an increase in the number of Graduate Surveyors while other job roles remain at consistent levels

16.4. While demand for roles is generally increasing there have been reductions in the numbers of Surveyors, Assistant Surveyors and Building Inspectors. These are key front-line roles at the forefront of service delivery.

16.5. The demand data this year for Surveyors indicates a significant shortfall in resourcing to the job role. Current supply data shows there are 203 people fulfilling this role which is 21 fewer than the reported demand level. Succession planning is critical to ensure this essential job role is fully resourced in the short-to-medium term.

Supply and Demand

Current 2021 – shortfall of 63 (11% of workforce)

16.6. Recruitment appears to have partially offset the usual level of turnover which has resulted in a small overall reduction in the number of people in the profession. However there are signs that managers are beginning to recruit people into junior roles which will boost the profession in the years to come.

The resourcing needs for Managers and Team Leaders are being met and the demand trend shows that maintaining the current number of people in these leadership roles will be sufficient. There remains scope for succession planning for these roles and for progression into Senior Surveyor and Lead Surveyor roles as a pathway into leadership positions.

The job roles showing the highest demand levels are Surveyors, Graduate Surveyors and Building Inspectors. This demand mirrors the reduction in resourcing into these job roles reported in the 2021 supply data. These roles are all essential for effective front-line delivery. The gap in the next five-to-ten years shows up to 71 people required to fill these three roles alone which is 12% of the current workforce.

A blend of effective recruitment and succession planning will be required to address the predicted shortfalls.

Potential Scenario if the size of the profession remains unchanged

The following breakdown indicates the increasing demand trends on the basis that recruitment continues to have little effect on the overall size of the profession.

Three Years as at 2024 – shortfall of 112 (20% of workforce)

The demand level increases by nearly double in the next three years. The current trend data for supply indicates that the profession is not growing and it is expected that recruitment into junior roles will take time to have an impact. If action is not taken then the profession will be 20% smaller than required to deliver a resilient and first-class service which will place additional demands on existing staff.

Five Years as at 2026 – shortfall of 120 (21% of workforce)

The trend is expected to continue with a growing shortfall in resourcing. The data shows there will be a resourcing gap of 120 compared to the 2021 supply data across all job roles.

Ten Years as at 2031 – shortfall of 125 (22% of workforce)

Demand would likely plateau at 125 over the full ten-year period which is broadly similar to the situation indicated at five years. Improving attraction and recruitment is essential to avoid a resourcing gap of 22%, which would be unsustainable.

Succession planning and effective recruitment campaigns are essential to grow the profession and avoid this scenario. This is a critical challenge facing the profession within the next three years.

Demographic Profile

There has been an increase in the number of people in the top two age ranges from 56 to 60 and 61+ in 2021. This represents 135 people (24%) who are likely to retire in the next five years.

The 30-to-39 and 40-to-49 age ranges are stable, which indicates a significant number of people with experience and a wide range of competencies in the profession. The 247 people in these two age ranges represent the core of the profession and an invaluable pool of expertise to meet the resourcing challenges over the next ten years.

The number of people in the 16-to-24 age range has slightly declined, by 2 from 2020-21. The introduction of the new modern apprenticeship pathway from August 2022 should reverse this trend by attracting higher numbers of young people into the building standards profession. The commitment to provide 21 candidates for the first intake next year will see the number of modern apprentices rise and this will help to balance the demographic profile.

Length of Service

The data shows longevity of career for a significant proportion of the workforce. The number of people with a length of service between 21 and 40 years is 188, which is 33% of the workforce.

This, combined with the rise in the number of people in the 16-to-20 group, indicates that building standards offers a rewarding and long-term career path. The number of people with a length of service up to 10 years is steadily increasing and now represents 38% of the overall workforce.

There is a reduction in the number of people in the 11-to-15 years group which may indicate people leaving the profession to progress their career in the private sector or in a different discipline. This reduction may be in response to a lack of progression opportunities so a clearer succession planning approach for people in their mid-career could help to reduce the loss of expertise from the profession.

Professional Memberships

Chartered membership of a construction sector professional body is a clear indicator of the increasing professionalism of the workforce. Although growth in chartered memberships is slow, it is expected that membership levels will increase over time as individuals gain wider experience and gather the evidence required to achieve chartered status.


There are small increases in the qualifications held at different SCQF levels which indicates that individuals are gaining valuable knowledge and skills to support their career progression.

The duration of accredited courses creates a lag time affecting how quickly the data will shows more substantial increases in the qualifications held. The work to develop and introduce bespoke teaching materials for the building standards profession is progressing and this will improve the relevance and attractiveness of accredited courses available from colleges and universities.

Qualifications – Currently Studying

The rise in the number of staff holding honours degrees is welcome and shows clear investment in developing leaders for the future. However, the lack of recruitment into the profession may be a contributory factor to the overall reduction in people studying for a qualification.

The modern apprenticeship pilot based on the HNC and HND courses in Architectural Technology will boost numbers at the levels where the data shows a decline. The full implementation of the Competency Assessment System will also identify where individuals have skill gaps and the corresponding education and training opportunities. Aligning skill gaps with accredited courses will help raise the number of people pursuing new qualifications in the short-to-medium term.


Employing graduates from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines is strengthening the profession for the long term. The use of on-the-job mentoring, supervision and exposure to different types of project, accelerates the development of graduates into competent surveyors. The proposal to introduce the modern apprenticeship pilot from August 2022 was received well by local authority employers with agreement from Chief Executives for additional funding for modern apprentices in building standards teams. The pilot is expected to introduce 21 new modern apprentices into the profession who will be given the opportunity to build a lasting career.

Types of qualification currently being studied

Building Surveying is considered as offering core learning that is most appropriate for a career in the building standards profession. The consistent growth in the number of qualifications in this topic shows that learning achieved supports competence in a range of building standards job roles.

The development and delivery of bespoke building standards teaching materials by experienced Building Standards Surveyors has enhanced learning for Building Surveying degree students at Glasgow Caledonian University. The success of this approach provides a basis for expansion of the materials and inclusion in the teaching at other universities to improve choice for new students.

There is no increase in the number of specialist qualifications. The profession will need to promote the development of specialisms, such as Fire Engineering, to improve resilience and reduce reliance on external contractors.

People leaving the profession

There appears to be a predictable rate of turnover through retirement and loss of staff to other verifiers as people decide to move for professional and personal reasons. The rate of retirements is expected to increase due to the number of people in the upper age groupings and the high number of staff with long service.

The loss of expertise to other public sector roles or to the private sector should not be under-estimated and while the impact is relatively small the trend may increase as the economy recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.



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