Diversity: A new school of thought

Urban-Land-Institute-logoThe industry has taken giant leaps forward over recent years in its bid to make itself more accessible to the younger generation.

And now, as students enjoy a few weeks of freedom before a new term begins, even bigger steps are being taken to try to educate and encourage the next generation of potential property professionals.

Next month the Urban Land Institute will officially launch a UK initiative to teach young people about the importance of real estate and the built environment.

UrbanPlan UK aims to provide one-day workshops for Year 12 students to teach them about the role property has in regenerating and reviving urban areas. The scheme has been running in the US for more than a decade and has been taught to more than 27,000 students. In the UK, the project will run initially for three years and the ULI hopes it will be in operation in at least 40 schools, reaching some 1,200 pupils a year.

UrbanPlan UK was piloted in three London schools last November with 90 A-level geography and business studies students taking part in the free workshops, which challenge them to plan the redevelopment of a blighted site in a hypothetical town.

The main objective of the programme is to develop links between schools and the property industry and to encourage young people from diverse social and economic backgrounds to consider careers in property, as well as to create more informed citizens who better understand the communities they live in and enrich the A-level curriculum.

Simon Clark, chair of ULI UK and the UrbanPlan UK steering committee, said: “UrbanPlan gives students from all walks of life a unique insight into the pressures and processes through which communities evolve. This programme will increase their awareness of the complexities of urban redevelopment and help the students become better citizens. Some may even be inspired to consider roles in the property industry.”

He added: “It will also offer volunteers a chance to share their experiences and to promote the industry in the transformation of urban areas.”

The initiative is being supported by a number of property companies and agents including Hammerson, Grosvenor, Almacantar, Tishman Speyer and Strutt & Parker, plus industry diversification collective Changing the Face of Property.

David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson, one of the founding partners of the UrbanPlan UK initiative, says: “Demonstrating that our industry is a dynamic, vibrant and rewarding sector to work in, and attracting young talent from a diverse social and economic background, is vital to support the long-term success of our industry.”

The workshops

Teams of students are asked to form property companies and are tasked with drawing up and submitting a proposal to regenerate a blighted site in a hypothetical town to the local council. Each team member takes on a role within the property company to learn about the market and non-market forces that influence decision making as well as all the different stakeholders involved in the process. They are tasked with reconciling often-competing agendas to create a well-designed, market-responsive and sustainable project. The workshops are taught by qualified teachers and supported by industry volunteers.

Get involved

ULI is on the hunt for volunteers from across the built environment to help deliver the UrbanPlan initiative. Volunteers will be required to commit around two full days for the first phase of the programme this autumn plus two hours for judging in November. To find out more and register your interest, visit http://uk.uli.org/give-back/urbanplan/