The recent housing white paper labelled the sector ‘broken’ and in need of some serious fixing. Building more affordable homes has been the major focus for the last three years and rightly so given the shortfall between delivery and the target of 200,000 homes per year. The government proposes to focus on building more homes for affordable renting, simplify the planning process and de-regulate the sector to speed up project funding and delivery.
These proposals have been welcomed by the sector with Terry Alafat, CEO of the CIH, commenting:
“The package of measures announced represents an important shift in housing policy which demonstrates a commitment to tackle our housing crisis.”
So with the introduction of these initiatives, what skills will employers be seeking to help fix the sector? Michael Page Housing have put together the five hottest jobs in the sector right now.
1. Land Buyer/Manager
With land availability at a premium, land buyers and managers will be in high demand as organisations compete for the hottest plots for ‘build to sell’ and ‘build to rent’. This will require a specialist network and also in-depth knowledge of the buying and planning process, especially around Section 106 agreements as affordable rent makes a re-emergence. Whilst the planning process should become simpler to navigate through, and project lifecycles shorter, organisations will need land buyers and managers with extensive industry knowledge and networks to achieve fast and profitable results.
2. Development Manager
We have noticed a significant shortage in skills across development manager roles in recent months, while there has been an increase in the number of development programmes being put forward. With plans to address the housing shortfall, development managers will continue to play a crucial role in seeing these projects through both the pre-contract and post-contract stages. Currently, to meet the heightened demand for these skills, we are seeing candidates from other sectors such as education and healthcare entering the industry, especially with the emergence of mixed-use schemes.
3. Project/Site Manager
Developers and contractors nationwide bemoan the shortage of candidates at project and site management level, creating a frustrating bottleneck of progress during the delivery stage. Ensuring that projects finish on time, to budget and safely is always the top priority, this is where highly capable, experienced project and site managers are crucial, and also act as the key client and customer interface. More work needs to be done to drive entry into these job roles at the grassroots level through apprenticeship schemes. PageGroup is assisting with this through our Page Talent site, which allows students looking for apprenticeships to connect with employers looking to hire.
4. Quantity Surveyor
Always recognised as a key, but a very difficult role to find candidates for, quantity surveying remains a premium skill set for employers. With prices and margins becoming ever more competitive, it’s the ability of a good quantity surveyor which will ensure the return on investment the developer had planned for. The financial crash of 2008 created an oversupply of this skill set in the market, as projects were cancelled overnight due to a lack of finance. The opposite is now true and good quantity surveyors are very hard to find.
5. Asset Manager/Surveyor
With an extensive amount of housing stock to be built in the coming years, housing associations, ALMOs and councils will need to manage their portfolios with a more creative and commercial mind set, especially given the 1% reduction in rental incomes. Housing portfolios have become varied and complex with multiple tenure types dictating a more flexible approach to managing stock and maximising returns. Furthermore, ensuring full compliance with stricter regulations on stock management has really tested and stretched asset teams. If organisations are to attract talent who can think more commercially to this part of the sector, they will need to improve remuneration and benefit packages to match that of the private sector.
As well as increased demand in these development and asset management roles, there will also be corresponding increases in the need for high calibre individuals in corporate functions such as finance, HR, marketing and customer service.
One thing is clear, housing is high on the agenda and represents a stable, progressive, challenging and ambitious sector for candidates to develop their careers. We can all do more to raise awareness of the sector’s appeal, and this is something we work closely with clients to achieve. Michael Page Housing operates nationally across the housing sector, focusing on both permanent and interim junior management/professional vacancies to executive level assignments. If you are a client needing assistance with recruitment or a candidate looking for a new challenge, we welcome a conversation on how we can help.
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