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News & Press: 2013 News Items

Netspot : The quality of the future PrQS

Monday, 14 October 2013   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Bert vd Heever
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The e-letter by Steve Lyons on the quality of the future PrQS and our subsequent article on the matter sparked a lively debate in the Quantity Surveyors South Africa group on LinkedIn

Just yesterday I was e-mailed excerpts from Bills of Quantities of items which were impossible to price as they were not measured in accordance with the standard system. Our leading article at the top of this page on the New Rules of Measurement, published at the beginning of this year by the RICS, makes it clear that members following the guidance notes in the New Rules of Measurement should have ..."at least a partial defence to any allegation of professional negligence if they have followed those practices."

The debate on LinkedIn was kicked off by Mluleki Mbambo who said that: " Coming from an academic background, and having seen a news posting on the ASAQS website adding a view to the debate, I am inclined to agree with Prof. Cattell. Quantity Surveying has (and must evolve) beyond taking off and measuring. Although important, these skills as demonstrated above, are vocational and can be learnt on the job by an average candidate. Tertiary institutions cannot spend 4 years "teaching" someone how to do a job."

Gregory Fendt, owner of Bennett Fendt Quantity Surveyors commented that: " The bread and butter "taking off and measuring" is no more, fee tendering has seen to that! I am worried that the basic QS skills are expected to be learnt on the job, that costs money! Graduates should be at least reasonably skilled when entering the job market and one way of doing that is for the govt to partner with our profession by providing projects to QS's who are keen to transfer skills and take graduates through to their professional qualifications - of course that cannot be on a fee tendering basis."

Itumeleng Mashile, a young QS said that: "... I am still a freshmen in the industry, and going back to the roots, yes the Level of QS they taught us at Tertiary institute for me is like, they are touching on the bases (sic) of what to expect at a working environment." He also makes an impassioned plea that the youth are eager to learn but that they are not given the opportunity to do so.

Leonard van der Dussen, Managing Director at VDDB added spice to the debate with comments such as: "... The quantity surveying profession has a disadvantage to many other professions, in that its role is not impossible to be filled by others who do not have the specific training and experience (I hear gasps in the quantity surveying audience). You can hardly build a good shopping centre without an architect, but without the quantity surveyor, some cost-minded architect combined with some cost accountancy can probably ensure that the project budget does not fail. It is only when the quantity surveying speciality skill set makes a material and visible difference to the cost management of this project, that it become worthwhile to consider having a narrowly specialised construction contract cost management expert as a distinct function on the project." He goes on to say: " The answer is ironically to change the quantity surveying courses at university with reference to what is was 30 and 40 years ago: back to basics - solid subjects. Train quantity surveyors with solid accountancy and economics, solid mathematics (to develop analytical skills), and my favorite: teach language in-depth so that people can write minutes and reports and talks sense in meetings; and then add the teaching of taking-off discipline; else go join the BCom class if you don't want to be something on top of the basic skills. Come prepared when you apply for a job with enough foundation for us to be able to take you further and broaden your prospects."

What is worrying about this debate is the sense of déjà vu it leaves one with, ...of having heard all this before in the distant past ... and with a sense of unease that we as a QS fraternity are unable to identify the underlying problem and to fix it.

You may leave your own comments and views below our article on this website.


Ian Manson Fraser says...
Posted Sunday, 17 November 2013
One of mankind's refuges is to blame "someone else". It might be beneficial for "professional consultants" and others who practise "built environment disciplines" to examine one of the reasons why, or how, such "professional consultancies" arose in the first place. The writer is alluding to the fact that he was made aware that professional consultants should, amongst other things, be ethical and save the Client money, where possible. At that time, "Professional quantity surveyors" were expected to, amongst other things, compile documentation from "design information" that was comparatively comprehensive and accurate. Such documentation was intended to represent a tender document that "encapsulated" all construction costs that were likely to be for the account of the employer [in JBCC parlance]. In compiling such tender, and particularly the bills of quantities, it would have been necessary for the quantity surveyor to have, amongst other things, constructed the works in his/her head.
Danny Shaw Quantity Surveyors says...
Posted Monday, 21 October 2013
I was recently approached by a Contractor to comment on a Bill of Quantities as he was not comfortable with pricing it. There were alarming errors of large value in the document, and it did not comply with the standard system. Errors can be rectified easily, and in house training can improve competence. But, refusal to become proficient and comply with the basic requirements of the standard system, which, it seems, is seen as a guide at best, and a lack of appreciation of the fundamental reasons for our standard documents which have been evolved with dedication over many years, in my view indicates a lack of fundamental training.