Training interns is crucial for SA real estate

Jan 24, 2019 | Features, Local Property

Ronel Bornman, Human Resource Development Manager for Seeff Properties.

Given the rapidly changing nature of work, it is practically impossible to predict the exact hard skills real estate will require in the future

Having an ageing workforce combined with a high drop-out rate among young interns in a rapidly evolving work environment – SA’s real estate industry really has no choice but to commit to the training of interns says education and training expert Ronel Bornman.

Being the founder of Seeff Property’s very successful training academy and with more than 30 years’ worth of experience in education, training and skills development, it is clear why Bornman was recently chosen by industry body Rebosa to represent them on the Services SETA Real Estate Chamber Committee.

With so many issues abounding in the local real estate industry such as weeding out rogue training providers, turning around the high drop-out rate among interns, adjusting and keeping up with increasingly digitalised environment, not to mention disruption from online contenders etc we asked Bornman to weigh in on how this impacts the training and education of estate agents. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: What does the Real Estate Chamber Committee do?

A: The Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) is the authority government holds responsible for ensuring the proper standards are met with the education and training of the services sector which include the real estate industry as one of the sub-sectors. Each sub-sector is represented by a chamber committee, comprised of representatives from industry bodies from that sub-sector, and these committees act in an advisory capacity to the Services SETA by making recommendations on matters pertaining to the sub-sector it represents.

The Real Estate Chamber Committee must do the following, among other things: identify education and training needs sub-sector; advise on the development of sub-sector qualifications, the relevant criteria for sub-sector accreditations. funding needs for training as well as advise on monitoring and quality assuring criteria for training in the sub-sector.

The Committee must also make inputs into the Services SETA’s education and training policies relevant to the real estate industry. Lastly, the Committee must monitor the development and implementation of learning programmes as well as other training within the industry.

Q: Is there a need for new courses?

A: There is a definite need to re-look the current qualification specifically seen in the light of the 4th industrial revolution and the disruptions we have already seen in the industry. Given the rapidly changing nature of work, it is practically impossible to predict the exact hard skills real estate will require in the future but skills to survive will have to include: complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence and service orientation to name a few. Skills development will have to focus on transferable soft skills that can be utilised across a wide range of industries.

The current qualifications for real estate has been extended to 30 June 2023, the last date of enrolment is 30 Jun 2024 and the last date of achievement is 30 June 2027.  This will provide more than enough time for all stakeholders to craft programmes suitable to address all future needs.

Q: Is enough being done to curb rogue training providers?

A: Yes, I do believe there is a strong drive to increase quality and a lot has been done to investigate rogue providers. The onus is also on the quality providers to ensure that they whistle blow on those rogue providers.

Q: Do you think becoming an estate agent is a good career choice for today’s young people? If yes, why and is enough being done to encourage young people from previous disadvantaged communities to train as estate agents?

A: Surviving in the real estate industry requires a specific skill set and a lot of perseverance. Having some work experience before becoming a real estate agent is preferable and advisable. It has been proven with proper career pathing, e.g. starting as an assistant before progressing to becoming an agent, and a focused mentoring programme, which is seriously lacking in the industry, it is possible to bring young previous disadvantaged individuals into the industry.

Q: Many young interns can’t cope with the financial pressure of having to survive for six months without an income while covering their own costs and then leave the profession. What is being done about this?

A: There are many real estate companies who have successfully addressed these issues by offering a basic salary for the first six months. I also believe the Services SETA can play in much bigger role by increasing the stipend for unemployed learnerships

Q: Are estate agencies involved enough with the training of interns?

A: Due to the ageing workforce I believe we do not have a choice but to commit to training interns.  It requires a lot of commitment and man hours to ensure that we recruit the right interns, train and mentor them to become successful. The high drop-out rate in the industry illustrates that we have not managed to do this successfully.

Q: In conclusion – What are your expectations/hopes for the real estate profession in SA?

A: To improve the image of real estate agents, that they are seen as professionals with specialised skills and a service orientated culture, not just another sales person.

 

Related articles: Gearing up for the challenges faced in real estate training

What suggestions would you make towards improving the training courses for estate agents in SA? Email editor@propertyprofessional.co.za