Bricks, Mortar, Jobs

Foster Evans, Director of Employers in Voluntary Housing, spoke to Care Appointments Scotland about the career opportunities that exist within the housing sector

How would you assess the current workforce climate within the housing sector?

“The climate is positive because of the continued growth in organisations and opportunities. However there is a lot of change in policy and structures. A wee bit of stability and continuity would allow the sector to catch its breath.

“Because of all of this change the need for new people into the sector has been neglected, not completely, but it is quite clear that a lot of new entrants have stumbled into the sector (a bit like myself) and not as a result of a clear career choice.

“Equally many are then enthused with the opportunity to contribute, to provide good quality housing in the community and to work with like-minded people in a very people-orientated industry.”

What do you believe to be the main reasons as to why individuals should consider a career in the sector?

“In Scotland the sector has good pay and rewards at every level, as well as good career prospects. The work is challenging and rewarding as you can now take the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s enjoyment of their lives, which hasn’t always been the case in the past.

“We have allowed many houses and communities in Scotland to fall below an acceptable standard. The new Scottish Housing Quality Standard will mean that landlords will have to demonstrate how all their houses will meet it by 2015.

“If you choose to work in housing, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your contribution really matters, because everyone needs somewhere decent to live. The work is not easy and often challenging, but the rewards in terms of fulfilment are high.” {mospagebreak}

Can you give us an idea of the variety of roles on offer within the housing field?

“More than 150,000 people are employed in housing and housing management within the UK. Housing Management and Property Maintenance are the mainstay of employment in the sector with letting houses, keeping them in good repair and managing the tenant/landlord relationship at the heart of the daily workload.

“However the sector employs a large number of finance, project management and administrative staff. There are also IT, HR and benefit advice posts. It is not uncommon for those with transferable skills and knowledge in these professions to move into social housing.”

What are the typical skill-sets that employers in the sector look for?

“Staff must be people orientated to work in the sector. Not just in dealing with residents but also because of the extent of teamwork and cross-departmental work required to provide a top class service. The Chartered Institute of Housing say that the following skills, among others, are particularly relevant: strong communication and negotiation skills; organisational skills; flexibility and adaptability; an understanding of diversity.

“Employers in Voluntary Housing offers access, to member and non-member housing employers, to its market leading and competitively priced recruitment services. In response to employers’ staffing requirements we established, over a decade ago, a very successful temporary housing personnel service which supplies both quality checked and experienced housing staff throughout Scotland at short notice.

“Similarly, we offer premier recruitment advertising support through our weekly recruitment bulletin and website display of the top available housing jobs in Scotland and complementary recruitment consultancy assistance.”

How do you see the future for the sector in terms of recruitment, retention and workforce development? {mospagebreak}

“There have been constant changes in the housing sector in recent times – growing owner occupation, the rise in homelessness and repossessions, the increasing importance of housing associations, the growth of community controlled housing and recently, a recognition that housing professionals need to work with other public services to regenerate the communities in which people live.

“The sector’s importance is likely to grow. The Stock Transfer of Local Authority homes to new organisations will continue and with it increased investment and opportunities.

“Community controlled housing associations also offer a successful, highly regulated form of social business which could help with the joined-up working required in the regeneration of communities in Scotland. Communities Scotland the Executive agency is looking for more initiatives in this field.

“All of these changes will require skilled and able staff and this is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future.”

Further information can be found on the EVH website at