The built environment (BE) is a social-science term for ‘the human-made spaces in which people live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis’.
Today, BE transcends just a livable place. It is a multifaceted field that comprises design, construction, management, and use of advanced technologies over conventional ones. BE also draws aspects from various other disciplines such as economics, law, public policy and public health. Within the realm of public health, the term is referred to as renovating areas for improving the living standard, health and environment of people living within a community or place.
The growth in urban India may be fast-paced, yet 70 percent of its BE requirement by 2030 is yet to take shape, making it a lucrative sector for investments. But India has its problem matrices too -- a rapidly growing population, infrastructure scarcity and alarmingly increasing pollution -- within the constraints of which, our BE needs to be flexible and adaptable too.
In the past two years, there have been drastic changes in the business processes of Indian real estate and urban infrastructure sectors owing to a host of reforms including Real Estate Regulatory Act, the introduction of the Goods and Service Tax, Real Estate Investment Trusts, Infrastructure Investment Trusts, Relaxation of norms for foreign direct investment and external commercial borrowing. These reforms have brought with it the ease of doing business in this sector and have forced this traditionally unorganised sector to shift to an organised format which is also professionally managed now. With the need for professional management openings in the sector, BE now needs people with technical and managerial skills.
It is predicted that Indian BE will be the third largest industry in the world by 2030. With a year-on-year growth predicted at 7-8 percent, it is set to create ample employment opportunities for future generations.
According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 35 percent growth in world’s urban population till 2050 is expected to come from only three countries -- India, China and Nigeria. Also, the absolute growth in urban population of India is predicted to be the highest. And the Indian real estate and infrastructure industry will be a crucial contributor to this growth.
According to another study, the Indian BE sector will face an acute shortage of manpower, to the extent of almost 85 percent -- a gap of mammoth proportions! And the reason for this dearth will be lack of skilled professionals due to obsolete programmes and technologies imparted in most colleges and universities. The study curriculum needs to change if students are to be industry-ready. The need of the hour is industry-institute partnerships with practical pedagogy and ‘case studies method’ taking precedence over theoretical dissemination of knowledge. Higher education institutes need to be cognizant of the fact that students seeking career opportunities in the BE sector need to understand the requirements of the industry so that they can create a better place for themselves. They need to be technically updated and should also have top managerial skills for professional growth. Techno-managerial courses offered by various top-level accredited universities and colleges are the best options for students to develop a strong mix of these skills and abilities.
Dependent on a number of metrics like skilled manpower, flexibility and technological advancement, the BE is transforming the country as India’s real estate sector is expected to contribute 13 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 and the market size is expected to be $1 trillion by 2030.
Amol Shimpi is the director and associate dean of RICS School of Built Environment.