Completing the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and becoming a Chartered Surveyor is the mark of a construction sector specialist. For the individuals who become Chartered, it’s the key to a career of rewarding work.
But for many people including Joe Evers, Senior Quantity Surveyor with Walker Sime, the APC experience can be a dispiriting one. Here, he explains why he decided to do something about it.
What is the APC and why does it matter?
The APC is the assessment process a candidate has to complete in order to become a Chartered Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Achieving your MRICS (the letters you receive after your name which indicate you’re a Chartered Member) is a badge of honour in the industry. It says something about your capabilities. People take you a little more seriously. You are trusted to work on more challenging, high profile or ground-breaking work. You might get promoted that little bit quicker. As construction qualifications go, completing the APC and becoming Chartered is the gold standard.
How do you complete the APC?
There’s a variety of pathways relevant to roles and experience level. Generally speaking, under the supervision of a counsellor, qualification involves a written submission, comprising a summary of experience, case study, continued professional development log and an online ethics course result. You then sit a 1-hour interview with the RICS, where you present your Case Study and are then asked questions on your written submission. Dependent on your experience, you will need to complete either a year or two of structured training.
The APC can be a tough, arduous road but it’s one that every student should get a lot out of. Yet pass rates aren’t very high. When I set out on my own path to the APC, I realised why.
The problem with the APC
When I started the APC in 2018, as I did before joining Walker Sime, it seemed big, daunting and confusing. From the time I started to when I finished the APC, I had experienced redundancy, the COVID pandemic and moves between London and Manchester. This caused a great amount of disruption.
The APC is challenging regardless of personal circumstance. I felt at times that didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off and it was a lonely experience. Eventually, I paid for my own mentor and counsellor to give myself the best chance of passing. I got through it eventually, but it was a tough experience.
I am certainly not alone in feeling that completing the APC and becoming Chartered is incredibly worthwhile, but I know from experience many organisations do not offer the right support, which leaves far too many people stressed and disheartened.
When I joined Walker Sime, I didn’t want people in my team to have the APC experience I had. So in September 2022, we launched what was at first a bi-weekly APC workshop but is now a weekly workshop.
APC at Walker Sime
Every Tuesday lunchtime, APC candidates from Walker Sime and our sister company K2 Consultancy take part in sessions exploring course-relevant topics led by people within the business. Just recently we’ve had sessions on leading people and teams (for the project management pathway), and on ethics, business planning, accounting principles, client care, and health and safety. We’ve done mandatory competence and technical competencies for QS (quantity surveying) design, economics and cost planning, with every session supported by members of our PM, QS and QSI (quantity surveying infrastructure) teams.
We’re also doing ‘softer’ skills training on things like emotional intelligence, confidence, and assertiveness. These may not fall directly under the APC but they’re an important element in completing it successfully, and vital to building a successful career.
The workshops are a chance for students to discuss and explore not just technical matters but to build their confidence and presentational skills. They can ask questions, feel empowered and feel supported in a way I and so many of my colleagues coming into the industry weren’t. The sessions are helping to demonstrate that the APC doesn’t have to be this big, scary beast.
It’s a rolling programme, so new starters can join at any point, and we’re often joined by APC-qualified members of the team who just want an update or refresher on the topic under discussion.
The bigger picture
Not many consultancies have this level of support in place. Even for some of the few that do, the driver for the process can often seem to be about pass numbers for PR purposes, rather than investing in the skills and capabilities of the team.
For anyone reading this and currently feeling unsupported in their APC I’d say, come and talk to us. We’re always looking to bring brilliant people on board – and then support them.
“Intriguing, well-structured and open”
We’re getting some fantastic feedback from course members.
Joe Lamb, an Assistant Quantity Surveyor with Walker Sime, has been eyeing the APC since he joined Walker Sime in 2019.
“It’s given me information to help further my submission but also enough background on topics I haven’t yet had exposure to. When I’m presenting, I think it’s a good way of improving your confidence as well as speaking to larger groups.
“It’s been really engaging – I can’t thank Joe enough – he’s so passionate about the RICS accreditation and this comes across in the workshops. The presentations are engaging whether carried out by Joe or another member of the team. There is always room for discussion which makes it interactive and allows you to challenge.”
Maria Mogor, a Project Manager with K2 Consultancy, began structured training for her APC within the past year.
“I want to get a greater level of property and construction knowledge from the sessions, which encompasses the legal and contractual obligations, stakeholder management, codes of conduct as well as the roles of different teams.
“It’s been superb. There is a great level of commitment and knowledge being shared in a formal but informal way. These sessions are intriguing, well-structured and open. Joe is able to communicate detailed information in a digestible manner and we are constantly encouraged to draw upon life experiences so we do not even realise that we are answering the questions. The Walker Sime presentations have been invaluable.”
I think the most important thing for me over the months we’ve been running the workshops is that I’ve seen our people get an appetite for the course, for learning and presenting. We’ve built real momentum. Now, we’re gearing up for the first members of the cohort to sit their final assessments later this year. We’re planning mock interviews now.
Everyone’s been really appreciative that we’ve put this APC structure in place, and it’s been fantastic to work in partnership with our K2 family and for them to be an integral part of the process.
I’ve loved working on this. We constantly say Walker Sime is a ‘people people’ business and I think you see that so clearly with this project. We’ll keep driving it forward and having fun with it too. If we can make accounting and data management like rock and roll we’ll have really cracked it!
Fancy joining our team? Check out the current job vacancies here.
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