Callum Chomczuk: Making housing a career of choice
In this blog for Scottish Housing Day, CIH Scotland’s national director Callum Chomczuk highlights the contribution that Scotland’s housing professionals make to improving the lives of tenants and communities, as well as the ambition to make housing a career of choice.
Today we celebrate Scottish Housing Day. A day to raise awareness of the challenges and successes in the housing sector and this year, we are focusing on housing as a career.
Despite the lack of any government-led strategy on recruitment, retention or talent development, Scotland’s housing sector employs tens of thousands of practitioners, working in every community in the country. Scotland’s housing workforce design, build, manage and improve all of our housing stock, as well as supporting the tenants and customers who live in them.
When we think about the changes that have been achieved over the last 20 years, it wasn’t a strategy or a law that delivered those changes, it was housing professionals the length and breadth of the country, doing their job, turning these policies into practice and improving peoples’ lives. It is Scotland’s housing professionals who have built over 400,000 new homes over the last 20 years, who have improved the quality and standard of our stock, delivered zero carbon heating systems and have mentored, supported and taught a new generation of housing professionals.
So today, for Scottish Housing Day, we want to give thanks to everyone working in this profession and celebrate everyone’s path into it and the choices made. Whether someone works in the social sector, private rented sector, is a developer, contractor, academic or works in a membership body, everyone is part of Scotland’s housing profession and makes a difference to us all.
However, we also want to look to the future. We know the challenges facing the profession and the sector are great. We know from the ambition set out in Housing to 2040 that we are going to need evermore numbers of dedicated, skilled housing professionals.
We also know there is lots going on across the sector to support careers in housing, from initiatives like Kingdom Housing’s graduate programme, Fife Council’s training academy, SFHA’s Routes into Housing project, the GEM programme, modern apprenticeships and industry leading qualifications which show that the sector is taking its responsibility of developing the next generation of housing professionals and housing careers seriously.
Indeed, at CIH we are playing our part with the launch of our professional standards and self-assessment tool as a way to support housing professionals to take control of their own careers and identify the training and guidance they need for their professional development.
This is all helpful. But if we want housing to be a career of choice, then how do we develop a more systemic approach to supporting careers in our sector?
We all want housing to be recognised as the impactful profession that it is and while there is disagreement about the specific roles and responsibilities of government, regulators and skills agencies, I think there is much we can agree on:
- The biggest responsibility for increasing the regard, reputation and attractiveness of a career in housing rests with Scotland’s housing practitioners. We all accept and indeed embrace our responsibility here.
- But there is not just a case but also a need for the government to work with us to develop pathways into the profession and support high performance.
So, as we celebrate Scottish Housing Day, we need to seize the initiative. We need to make the case for housing to be recognised as the profession it is and we need to work collaboratively with Government to ensure the structures are in place so we can help to develop the next generation of housing leaders.
We all share the ambition set out in Housing to 2040 so let’s make sure we do everything we can to ensure we have a skilled, educated and plentiful housing workforce to meet the needs of Scotland.