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A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how the sector seemed to have its ‘eureka’ moment in response to safeguarding its future and turning the tide from housing being an accidental career to a career of choice.  The National Housing Federation conference had a keynote session and several breakouts dedicated to the very subject and this week saw the Chartered Institute of Housing launch its #CIHHumanLibrary on Instagram via its CIH Futures program.  Hey, even I’m going back to school next week to do a session with students on how exciting a career in innovation, service design and housing can be….

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Millennials, Generation Y, Gamers, whatever, whether you believe such social groups exist (and there are plenty of people who don’t) such descriptors do allow us to appreciate that we are dealing with a set of individuals who have different aspirations, skills and communication channels.  As a millennial myself, I confess I do get a little bit tired of people thinking all we like to do is take selfies, eat avocado and are lazy (trust me, we may like a selfie, but most of us are constantly striving to be the best version of us we can be) but it’s important that we bear this in mind when looking to attract people to the sector and retain talent.  From what I’ve seen of the finalists of @24Housing Young Leaders, the delegates who attended and my friends and colleagues on Twitter to name but a few, there is a whole host already here, but as @eviecopland mentioned in her inaugural #CIHHumanLibrary episode, we need to keep this up.    

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Why is it so important and why now I hear you say?  Well, if you caught Evie’s session, the reality is in the next few years, many of our esteemed colleagues who hold senior positions within the sector will be thinking about retiring, leaving some very big shoes to fill.  The same can be said for our customers - if we can appreciate that our colleagues need a different offering in terms of their career, we need to consider the same for them in terms of our product and service offerings. One of the breakout sessions at #natfed17 was even entitled ‘S7: Creating New Products For Millennials’ and looked at how things like shared ownership, different tenures and product types will play an important role in meeting the needs and aspirations of our future customers.  We can’t deliver this unless we have the right committed and passionate individuals.

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As I’ve said before, I firmly believe we already have an excellent set of talented, young individuals in the sector. The good news is we are doing more about shouting about the great work we are doing and encouraging others to get involved and join us, mainly through embracing technology like never before.  Twitter is still one of the most popular platforms for housing folk, but we’ve also got a presence on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, using these channels not only to engage with customers, but show potential future colleagues more about the work we do and how much we love it.  It was impossible to ignore Evie’s passion for what she does and using Instagram as a platform for sharing this meant none of this enthusiasm was lost in translation. The live feed also gave an opportunity for a live Q&A session, so colleagues from all over the country could pick her brains and gain valuable insights and advice that may help them in their own careers.  

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There is so much more to housing than bricks and mortar - in fact, as the #CIHHumanLibrary will show over the coming weeks, there are so many routes in, whether this be through construction, support, communications, innovation, you can pretty much do any career you like with the added bonus of knowing that you are making a difference.  You’ll also be in excellent company too - you only have to check out socials to see this, with lots of chatter, networking and idea sharing, but the best bit, is that everyone is super supportive of each other.  It’s not dog eat dog, and it's one of the few industries which happily embraces collaborative working as ultimately, we are all here to do the same thing in improving customers lives.  In the Lab, working aloud is one of our principles, and we love to speak to and work with anyone who shares our passion for creating truly new opportunities to deliver positive ideas into the sector.  

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JFK is right and even the National Housing Federation said themselves at the launch of their #creatingourfuture campaign, ‘In an uncertain world, we don’t just need to own our future, we need to create it’.  Having listened to the #YLE17 finalists in their pitches against current industry experts, they are inspirational examples of embracing uncertainty in our commercial environment to create diversity within the sector, driving new innovations and showcasing how housing needs similar architects of change to make their dreams, and those of so many others, a reality.  Combining these new minds with the wealth of experience from those in existing senior positions is an exciting combination and I shall be watching with interest as these new initiatives develop and the ideas discussed at conference continue to be explored in more detail.  If you need me in the meantime though, I’ll be taking a picture of my perfectly curated dinner and posting it to Instagram. Sorry, but I am a millennial after all….  #oldhabitsdiehard