The housing white paper: a recruitment perspective

Since the release of the highly anticipated housing white paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ in early February, industry experts have been broadcasting their views and opinions through a variety of different media channels. It has been a topic of much conversation and I thought it would be interesting to summarise the points from a recruitment perspective.
The white paper comments that “there have been on average 160,000 new homes each year in England” and states that the country needs “from 225,000 to 275,000 or more each year” in order to keep up with the increasing population and make up for the past years of under-supply. These are key issues which can be directly linked to the lack of diversification and slow processing of new developments in the housing market. 

Diversifying the housing market

The Government has been relatively critical in respect to how the housing industry needs to diversify, particularly in regards to the way homes are built. Housing associations will now be required to play the vital role of ensuring that the necessary changes are made to deliver a more diversified market place. In response to this, the HCA have amended the recently introduced Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP) which will now enable registered providers to raise more finance which will in turn increase flexibility to build more homes. 
Further to the recent SOAHP allocation, housing associations are looking to diversify into the Private Rented Sector (PRS). Housing associations such as Regenda and Your Housing Group have recently partnered with Peel Ports in Liverpool to assist in City Centre PRS apartment living under their PRS brands, Redwing Living and Hive respectively. 
From a recruitment standpoint, housing associations who are embarking on these expansive programmes, such as those mentioned above, will be better positioned to attract the highest quartile of candidates. In the past, one of the biggest challenges for many housing associations has been attracting and retaining their best talent, which of course can be attributed to the glaring variation between the private and public sector salaries. More importantly however, is the lack of competition that housing associations have been providing to the large private contractors in respect to housing developments. Historically there has been a high dependence on major housebuilders to build most homes, with housing associations currently responsible for developing around just one third of all houses. 
A further example of this is the recent announcement of the joint venture partnership between Your Housing Group and renewable energy specialists WElink Group, which will see thousands of homes built across the UK using the modular construction system. Michael Page have partnered with WElink to secure highly talented professionals to support this partnership. This is another avenue in which housing associations are looking to better compete with house builders, not only through diversifying the market but also by attracting high achieving individuals to develop more talented teams.

Building homes faster 

Another point made by the Government is the need to build more homes and to do so much faster. To put this into context, more than a third of new homes that were granted planning permission between 2010/11 and 2015/16 have yet to be built.
One of the key issues obstructing these plans is that there is an extensive skills shortage in the construction industry. The housing construction sector relies heavily on sub-contracted and self-employed labour although it has low levels of investment in skill development and new technologies. This situation is likely to worsen if left unchecked, with many workers set to retire over the next 10 years. 
In 2016 the housing industry committed to bring 45,000 new skilled workers into the sector by 2020. As service providers and partners to the industry, PageGroup offer Page Talent, a site which allows employers to advertise their internships and apprenticeship programmes for free, directly to students seeking these opportunities.
Michael Page have also recently partnered with Wates Residential ‘Building Futures’ programme, providing candidates assistance with CV writing and interactive interview workshops. Designed to give attendees a career kick-start in the residential building industry, so far it has proven to be a success, enabling candidates to progress into further training and employment as a result of the programme.
In August 2016, Trafford Housing Trust announced a pioneering partnership with L&Q to deliver more than 2,000 homes in the North West over the next four years. This is a 50/50 joint venture, bringing their balance sheet capacity and expertise to enable more homes to be delivered more quickly. To aid with their expansive plans, Michael Page Housing, have recruited two highly talented non-executive directors and are continuing to attract highly skilled professionals to join their growing team. 

Conclusion 

There are certainly some interesting points being made from the housing white paper; the need for diversifying and establishing faster processes for developments in order to fix our ‘broken’ market. The success of these plans rely heavily on housing associations attracting and retaining the highest quartile of candidates in the market place, which is where we can help.
If you are looking to expand your team or would like to discuss any career opportunities in the housing market, please get in touch. 

Tom Neely

Tom Neely
T: +44 161 829 0397