With so many changes, many roles within the UK housing sector being redefined (as well as the term ‘professionalism’), and the drive to bring in a new generation of younger, higher qualified housing professionals, we believe it is vital to have a central place where they can access professional qualifications, guidance on the diverse career pathways on offer and harness continued support on current issues such as leadership, management, tenant involvement, commercial awareness and technical knowledge-based skills building, from an easily accessible national base.
It is more important than ever to raise and set high standards across all associated industries within the sector, and with so many private organisations now starting to fill the gaps with regards to training and development, it makes absolute sense for the sector to make comprehensive use of an already established national body that works within social housing across the entire country to advise and support professionals on the latest standards, policies, education and career opportunities.
Greenacre wrote an article recently on the importance of developing professionalism within social housing in which some key issues surrounding professionalism were highlighted by Emma Lindley (FCIH), Housing Strategy Lead at Ashfield District Council and CIH Board member and Gavin Smart, Deputy Chief Executive at CIH. Emma raised the question of whether professionalism within the sector should focus more on customer-focused self-development within an organisational culture verses technically astute, commercially aware knowledge-based professionalism, led by a national institution. Gavin emphasised the importance of defining professionalism to ensure all staff deliver a good quality of service, as well as a competency framework to map out the essential skills, knowledge and behaviours that housing professionals need.
From a recruitment perspective, we are seeing a growing urgency for our candidates to possess a clear technical knowledge base that also incorporates the managerial, soft skills and core values the sector needs to compete in the face of recent policy changes, funding cuts, the sector climate post Grenfell and the Green Paper highlights. Tenant involvement in all aspects of decision-making is now paramount, and it is also vital not to dilute the customer centred ethics social housing holds at its core, whilst accepting the ever-increasing requirement to bring in private partnerships and investment in order to survive and thrive.
The growing skills gap has led to more commercial skills being welcomed in from outside the sector, which, inevitably, has led to the limited number of candidates possessing the full set of credentials in highest demand commanding higher salary scales. To compete for the best candidates as well as ensuring the highest professional standards are adhered to, we believe there is a greater need to emphasise the ‘less shouty’ values and benefits the sector can offer our top candidates, such as career diversity, flexible working conditions, a better work-life balance, a higher emphasis on social values and tailor-made benefits packages, which statistically the younger generation place greater value on now than financial security alone. As a public sector industry, social housing can offer far greater incentives than simple remuneration value.
With a central hub providing multi-level professional memberships, setting benchmark standards on conduct, service and delivery, backing professionals through every level of their career pathway with technical, soft and leadership skills through qualifications, free mentoring and peer support, the sector can really come together as a force to be reckoned with in the face of forthcoming challenges and changes.
Our Managing Director Dan Short was recently invited to become a Co-opt board member for CIH London regional board and has been impressed by the energy and passion that exists within the CIH and indeed the importance being put on driving membership value for housing professionals across the different sector slices. Greenacre fully support the ambition of the CIH and CIH Futures and we are committed to working closely with them in 2019 and beyond.
If you are unsure how becoming a member of a professional body such as CIH would benefit your own career in housing, head along to their YouTube channel for a taster, or pop over to their website to find out more. For career advice and assistance in securing your next professional housing role, head over to the Greenacre website for details on how to contact us.
With so much demand on our housing professionals to develop multiple skills sets it is more important than ever to utilise the support of a central professional hub that upholds across the board industry standards and nurtures the future leaders we need to drive the sector forward.
Alma Sheren is Head of Marketing and Communications for Greenacre Recruitment, and researches/writes articles with the team on Leadership, Human Resources, Change Management and the challenges and transitions currently facing the UK housing sector.