Introducing The Base: The competency framework for consultants in the built and natural environment

What does it take to be a successful professional consultant and how can we develop and retain our people so we’re ready to tackle the sector’s biggest challenges? ACE New Zealand has developed The Base: The competency framework for consultants in the built and natural environment, to guide the knowledge and skills required to provide excellent consulting, whether you’re a sole trader or a large organisation.

A consultant in the built and natural environment provides design advice, analysis and management services to projects – both public and private. You might be an engineer, architect, surveyor, project manager, planner or another discipline. As a consultant, your role may involve providing advice and input into a project at all stages of the project cycle, from the planning stages through to construction.

To be a successful consultant, you need to have a broad range of technical and non-technical skills. Working within a consulting firm, or running your own, also requires a broad range of business and leadership skills and qualities, as well as corporate understanding. The depth and breadth of your knowledge and skills will depend on the nature of the work, the level you’re working at and whether you’re working in a technical or leadership role.

For the most part, education in our sector focuses on technical skills, with the expectation that non-technical skills are developed “on the job”. Different businesses have their own approaches to the growth and development of their people’s consulting skills, from large firms with mature internal systems to smaller businesses that may lack the resources to support this work or don’t know where to access courses or tools to assist them.

Until now, there has been no authoritative framework that sets out the core skills, competencies and behaviours of a successful consultant to help businesses identify how to develop your people, and where to best invest your resources to grow your people to be the best they can be and aligned to industry best practice.

Now we’re introducing The Base: The competency framework for consultants in the built and natural environment.

ACE New Zealand Helen Davidson says: “We are living in a time of change, challenge and opportunity, with the need to adapt to climate change, disruptive technologies, changing stakeholder expectations, and the need to innovate and adopt new and smarter ways of working in a restrained labour market.

“To be able to better address these challenges, professional services consulting firms in the built and natural environment need to ensure now, more than ever, their people have the skills needed to be effective consultants, providing consistently high-quality services, in the professional services consultancy sector.

“In a resource constrained environment, our businesses also need to know where they can best invest to develop and retain their people. That is why we have developed this framework.”

It’s a draft framework – we want your feedback

The Base is currently in draft form, and we hope our members can take time over the summer to read it, digest it, and provide feedback. Does it makes sense, have we captured all of the relevant skills and knowledge required at each level, or is there something missing? We would love to hear from you.

Please send your feedback by Friday 16 February to Julia Byers, our Manager for Policy and Programmes, at [email protected].

The Base is a vital tool to develop our people – with Chris Short at CGW

We talk to Chris Short, Chief Executive of CGW Consulting Engineers, about the key challenges business leaders face in ensuring teams are fit to deliver in future, and why the competency framework is a vital tool for recruitment, professional development and growth.

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