A Brighton college has become the first in the south of England to offer a new one-year estate agency course.
The one-year estate agent and property services course is being offered by the Brighton Met – formerly City College.
It leads to a “level 3 qualification” – equivalent to an A level – which is accepted for membership of NAEA Propertymark, formerly the National Association of Estate Agents.
The course has been designed by industry professionals, with Sawyer and Co director Chris Sawyer among the teaching staff.
He will take classes on leasehold properties, enfranchisement and other technical issues.
Mr Sawyer was interested in the course because he said the industry had a problem with recruitment.
He said that trainees were often confined to the back office at first because it could take them a few months to master basic protocols.
And he said: “The course enables them to hit the ground running. A job in an agency is often sink or swim and sometimes if the environment is wrong, it might not work out.”
Mr Sawyer, who served as president of the Brighton and Hove Estate Agents Association last year, will liaise between the college and the profession.
The college’s head of business and industry services, Helen Curtis, said that work placements were key.
She said: “Students will do a minimum of 30 hours work experience, ideally much more, where they will be inspired and encouraged to get involved.
“Some vocational courses at the college have tenuous links with employers but in this case we have been working closely with industry from the outset and businesses remain on board.”
The college said that A levels were not the answer for all students. Some wanted a direct route into employment while others wanted to pick up transferable life skills while they worked out their next step.
One student, Reana Muca, is combining the estate agency course with a level 3 accounting course that she started last year.
Ms Curtis said that this could set her up well if she wanted to become a financial adviser in the property sector.
She came to the Brighton Met from BHASVIC to learn skills that would prepare her for work and said: “I am interested in property and there are always jobs.”
Like Reana, Ricardo Seaman took A levels but now wanted a practical course. He enrolled because of the qualification in customer service. He used to work at Primark and in a call centre. He said: “I guess I just talk to people and I know how to sell.”
Another student, Autumn-Moon Chan-Garvey, has A levels in applied law, sociology and psychology already but she wants to do an apprenticeship rather than go to university.
She said that she liked the course because it combined knowledge with practical skills – and it’s her last year of free education.
Property course tutor Kerry Salkeld became an estate agent in Shoreham because it fitted in with her family commitments.
She provided holiday cover for the sales team at her old firm, staying abreast of developments in the industry and bringing real-life scenarios to college.
She aims to build students’ confidence and give them industry-specific knowledge and transferable life skills. She told the class that estate agents don’t have to be loud.
Ms Salkeld said that her job was to simplify the information so that all students could understand what an estate agent does and learn about customer service.
They could then make an informed decision about whether the industry was for them.
For Ms Curtis and her team, giving students choices and a future is what education is all about.
Students can still apply to join this course by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.