The road to a national standard

By on 22 March, 2022

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/assistant

Work is progressing on the development of a National Standard of Competency for Licensed/Registered Surveyors.

By Jonathan Nally

The Council of Reciprocating Surveyors Boards of Australia and New Zealand (CRSBANZ) is working on the development of a National Standard of Competency for Licensed/Registered Surveyors.

According to the CRSBANZ, a National Standard will be an important first step on the path to achieving Goal 5 of the Cadastre 2034 vision, which is to achieve a unified federated cadastral system based on common standards.

It is hoped that a unified, federated cadastral system will “enable people to readily and confidently identify the location and extent of all rights, restrictions and responsibilities related to land and real property”. It should also “promote and support innovation and provide the leadership, coordination and standards necessary to deliver a unified cadastral system that can be leveraged to fund sustainable solutions to meet emerging needs and opportunities”.

Part of the impetus for the effort is that by 1 July 2022, a new national Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupational Registration (AMR) scheme will be in operation in most Australian jurisdictions.

The development of a National Standard will need the surveying profession to consider:

  • The role of a cadastral surveyor across diverse modes of practice now and into the future
  • The broad scope of its work and its contribution to the community
  • The changing needs of the surveying and mapping industry
  • Current and emerging risks and opportunities across the whole profession
  • The competencies that graduates should achieve at completion of tertiary qualification
  • Post-graduate training requirements
  • The skilled workforce supply chain

CRSBANZ has published an Issues and Opportunities Paper (https://bit.ly/362It65) covering these matters, which:

  • Outlines the methodology and consultation framework for the Competency Review
  • Identifies issues and opportunities to be considered in consultation
  • Provides the basis for stakeholders to respond to the matters identified in the paper

The terms of reference of the review are to:

  1. Establish agreed competency standards that a licensed or registered cadastral surveyor should have in Australia and New Zealand now and into the future
  2. Update The Attributes of Surveying Degrees Recognised by CRSBANZ by John Fryer and Harvey Mitchell (2013) (Fryer Michell Report) with a catalogue of agreed mandatory core surveying degree content and non-core topics to be studied to meet the equivalent university degree qualification to be a licensed or registered cadastral surveyor.
  3. Develop an Implementation Plan for university education programs to satisfy contemporary requirements of Fryer Michell Report.

The CRSBANZ Steering Committee comprises Paul Rhodes (Chair of CRSBANZ and Chair of Land Surveyors Licensing Board of Western Australia), Rob Sarib (Chair of the Surveyors Board of the Northern Territory) and Joe D’Aloia (Chair of Surveyors Board of South Australia).

The review is being undertaken in a number of stages, including a consultation period which has just ended. In April 2022 it is proposed to present the consultation report to CRSBANZ and establish agreement on a standard of competency for licensed or registered cadastral surveyors.

The next stage will involve university and TAFE consultations to “Synchronise agreed competencies with a review of Fryer Mitchell Report and catalogue proposed core surveying degree content in detail, as well as a list of non-core topics, including implementation plan for university education programs”.

The final stage aims to present a final report to CRSBANZ in June 2022, although the ongoing COVID situation may affect this timeline.

Career challenges

An important aspect of the whole equation is the sustainability of the cadastral surveying profession, which is facing several headwinds, including an expected spike in the number of surveyors who will be retiring in the near future.

According to the Issues and Opportunities Paper, a 2018 report by Consulting Surveyors National found that the surveying profession is experiencing a workforce gap nationally, with, for instance, surveyor shortages expected to exist in Victoria through to 2028.

“Currently, the rate of surveyors successfully obtaining a licence is insufficient to match the rate at which licensed surveyors are expected to retire or leave the workforce. In the year 2019/20, the SRBV removed 13 licensed surveyors from the register who either did not renew their registration or died. In contrast, only seven new licensed surveyors were registered,” it says.

“Data from Consulting Surveyors National & BIS Oxford Economics also shows that eight per cent of the surveying and geospatial workforce are expected to retire in the next seven years in Australia. This issue is exacerbated by the ageing workforce of cadastral surveyors.”

A National Standard of Competency should serve to help unify the surveying industry, by:

  • Enabling greater mobility through stronger recognition of cross-sector and transferable skills
  • Developing pathways to allow graduates to move or transfer between jurisdictions
  • Making better use of industry and educator expertise to ensure better quality outcomes
  • Improving pathways advice for supporting lifelong learning and building resilience in the profession

This article was first published in the Feb/Mar 2022 issue of Position magazine.

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