Housing professionals directly affect the living conditions of one in four households and make a difference to the lives of those individuals and communities. Housing covers a wide range of activities, from managing properties, community development, supported housing and hostel accommodation to planning new homes. The private and public rented housing sector includes local authorities, housing organisations, small private landlords, voluntary sector landlords, Registered Social Landlords [RSL], homelessness agencies, tenant managed and campaigning organisations.
The housing sector employs 15,600 people in Wales in over 4,200 organisations. Housing Associations and RSLs, together with Local Authorities currently employ the largest number of housing staff. The recent economic downturn has meant that organisations and staff have been under pressure to provide a high level of service to a growing number of people with limited resources. Thus, organisations are looking to adapt to the new market conditions with 36% planning to move into new areas of activity and 25% of organisations investing more money in training to support these new areas. In terms of skills 5% of organisations stated that vacancies were hard to fill due to the lack of applicants with the required skills and an additional 4% reported skill gaps.
Research indicates that the housing sector has a disproportionate shortfall of skills within administrative/clerical, sales, customer services and manager occupations. Although the sector is generally well qualified many qualifications held are not necessarily related to housing. 15% of employees within the sector have below Level 2 or no qualifications.
Challenges faced by housing organisations include:
- Increased customer demands as evidence suggests that demand is outstripping supply for social housing provision;
- Internal factors such as increasing efficiency, managing budget cuts and keeping costs down;
- Legislation – the need to keep up to date with new legislation, particularly around sustainability and health and safety;
- Reduced level of public funding and access to private sector borrowing with the need to source funding from other areas.
Future competencies required by the sector include:
- Management and leadership – identified as being a key issue for the future which covers: coaching and supporting staff, problem solving, engaging and involving staff;
- Frontline customer service skills – meeting customer demands involving a more proactive approach;
- Inter-agency working requiring a wide range of communication and influencing skills;
- IT Skills and understanding relevant legislation.
Employers have been involved with the design of the qualifications in this framework which will develop the critical skills required within the sector. Apprentices will work as Housing Officers and Foundation apprentices as Housing Assistants.
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