Mentoring programmes can do a lot to tackle skills gaps in the housing sector
Fitting the bill
Earlier this year Asset Skills published some interesting data that every HR and training department should have at its fingertips.
Much of the work in its State of the sector report into the housing sector was based around six-monthly surveys designed to sample employers’ responses to skills and productivity issues.
The most recent survey - from October 2011 - found that housing employers were reporting skills gaps among job applicants and staff, including project management, IT, customer service and leadership.
To overcome these gaps housing employers stated that they aimed to continue investment in training for qualifications not only to improve productivity, but to ensure that staff remained motivated under the pressure of increased workloads.
Housing employers reported that getting the right quality of employee during a period of high unemployment was challenging, with applicants either over-qualified or not ready for the position on offer.
They also stated that maintaining and improving services with fewer resources was a real challenge.
To overcome this, employers were reporting that they were looking to provide a more customer-focused service, which required staff to have good customer-service skills.
Mentoring’s potential to address many of the challenges identified is huge. For much of the past 10 years, the Housing Diversity Network has supported several hundred individuals through its mentoring programmes, but take-up rates across the sector are still quite low and it feels like it is missing out.
As the report made clear, there is a pressing need to develop talent and address skills shortages in the sector.
Clifton Robinson is chief executive of Housing Diversity Network and former chair of the Tenant Services Authority’s equality and diversity advisory board