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September 20, 2022

HATC featured in HQM

To train or not to train? Investing in development teams for the future.

The UK housing market is broken. In April, the ONS reported the average house price had risen to £281,000 – nearly nine times the average salary. Last December, the NHF found that 400,000 people were classed as homeless or at immediate risk of homelessness. They also reported 2.5 million people could not afford their private rent or mortgage payments.

With nearly 35% of the population living in privately rented homes, many letting agents are noticing a huge discrepancy in demand outstripping supply. Add to this the 2.5 million ‘hidden households’ and there is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is set to hit the UK hard this winter.

In its 2019 election manifesto, the current government included a pledge to help ‘rebalance the UK housing market’ and increase the number of homes built per year to 300,000 by the mid-2020s. However, there is little clarity over what the government figures mean and the NHF believes the annual target number of new homes should be 340,000 at least until 2031 (circa 3.5 million).

The figures seem overwhelming when you consider housing delivery in the UK has not reached these levels since the 1960s. It seems obvious then, that attracting bright young people into the sector should be high on the agenda.

However, ask any student if they have come across affordable housing representatives at a careers fair and I am fairly sure the answer will be ‘No’. In my role as a housing development consultant and trainer, I meet hundreds of people every year who tell me they happened upon a career in the sector and just ‘fell into it’. Given its importance, it seems incomprehensible that currently, there no housing development degree courses available in the UK. Perhaps this is due to the diverse range of knowledge required and ever-changing regulatory guidelines, but this is one possible reason why young people choose not to join the sector from the outset.

With organisations facing an unprecedented array of challenges – from the implications of the Building Safety Act, the government’s zero carbon agenda, Future Homes and ongoing labour and supply shortages, perhaps it is not surprising that training and recruitment budgets are feeling the pinch.

Despite these hurdles, I firmly believe the sector can offer exciting and immensely rewarding career choices. Never has the need for sharing knowledge and experience been more important, and by investing in robust training and recruitment programmes, housing development teams can ensure they have the right people in place to tackle the inevitable challenges ahead. Perhaps now is the right time for us to be focusing on the long-term value of investing in a skilled workforce – or in the words of Henry Ford, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave, is not training them and having them stay.”

Neil Clements, Development Trainer & Consultant | HATC (part of M3)

See article on page 37:

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