Scottish Housing Day took place on 13th September this year with the aim of raising awareness of housing as a career.

It is a timely event for a sector that, despite serving nearly a million homes in Scotland, flies relatively quietly under the radar as a career choice.  As the labour market continues to prove tricky, we are keen to add our voice (and very good reasons) for working in the housing sector to the conversation, and work to ensure that what was the focus of one day of celebration remains an intrinsic aim for all the bodies that took part in it for the foreseeable future.

When you ask most housing professionals how they came to work in the sector, the answer is rarely “I’ve known since I was little that it is what I wanted to do”, which you may hear more frequently for teachers, vets, firefighters etc.  A career in housing tends to find people, rather than the other way around.

Nevertheless, those that do develop a career within housing will more often than not end up working with the same level of passion and dedication to the sector as if it was their lifelong calling, and my first reason to choose a career in housing speaks to this.

  1. The Importance of Home

When we think of other professions such as those in medicine or education, we are often drawn to the nobility of what the efforts of these professions do to contribute to better outcomes for society, notably health provision for all and the education of future generations.

However, access to a safe, affordable and warm home underpins both health and educational attainment, as the Scottish Government acknowledged in its long-term housing strategy “Housing to 2040”. Some reports have found that the difference in years of good health between the most and least deprived areas can be up to 25 years for men and 22 years for women.  Given that these statistics are drawn from areas and communities, we can infer that housing really matters to the tune of indicating whether another quarter of your life will be lived in good or poor health.  Good housing also contributes to a reduction in poverty and inequality, an enhanced sense of community and belonging, and overall wellbeing.  Some have recently labelled the sector as the 4th emergency service, yet it does so quietly and without great fanfare.

When Covid hit in 2020, many housing associations sprang into action, using the information they had and the relationships they had built over years in their communities to quickly and effectively provide targeted help and support to their communities, a role that overwhelmed government agencies were happy to allow them to lead on; one Scottish Government agency provided £2.7 million in funding to be disseminated throughout 30 organisations in Glasgow and the West (source GWSF).

As the cost-of-living crisis started to bite in 2022, again housing organisations used their local knowledge and exceptional staff talent to pivot towards working on tenancy sustainment and minimising fuel poverty all whilst the talk of a rent freeze threatened to leave gaping holes in future business plans amidst hiking inflation.

If all of this sounds like a love letter to working in housing, then I am striking the correct tone.  Housing professionals would be amongst the most modest, overlooked contributors towards building a fairer and more sustainable future for everyone.  This becomes particularly important as we look at succession planning in the sector, we know that millennials and the younger workforce place high value on core purpose and meaningful work – what could be more important that building and sustaining the communities of the future?

At the risk of sounding blithe, advertising a career in housing could be captured in a question as simple as “do you want to build the future?”  Whether it is through building sustainable new homes, renovating old homes at the edge of technological and building innovation or investing in our communities, that is precisely what a career in housing does, and the sooner we make more noise about this, the better!

  1. Variety and Opportunity

Continuing with what may be the second most important issue when discussing career opportunities in housing is that it is not all bricks and mortar!  At a webinar last week, we were invited to share a presentation on the qualifications and learning that underpin careers in housing, and when I began to list them in preparation and the roles that they support, I was struck by just how varied the sector has become.

Where previously there may have been roles in housing maintenance, housing management and property factoring, in the last 10-15 years we have seen whole teams spring up around corporate services, finance, HR, development, community regeneration, income maximisation and tenancy sustainment; to name but a few.  Such diversification within the sector should only widen our appeal to those looking to embark on a varied and challenging career.

This, coupled with the structures within, and number of housing providers means that opportunities for career growth and development are as numerous and varied as the career paths themselves, so those with leadership aspirations will not be left short on prospects for developing in this path.

Knowing that variety and opportunity are so important to job satisfaction and overall wellbeing, it is little wonder that those lucky enough to find their way to a housing career, tend to stay and build a decades-long, if not lifelong, career within it.

  1. Wellbeing

I will use that very small and purposeful reference to wellbeing in the previous paragraph to segue into my final major reason to choose housing as a career – wellbeing.

To work in housing is to care about others, be it tenants or communities, and as a sector the housing profession was very quick to realise that in order to look after others, we had to look after our staff.

I have worked with HR professionals in housing for a number of years now and can confidently report that they are always eager to learn about new ways to increase their employee value proposition.  Whether this is in the form of the innovation of wellbeing days introduced in the height of the pandemic at some organisations, outcome based working and other flexible working models at others, or those that are tentatively trialling the 4-day week, employers in housing are keen to find the best ways to support, attract and retain the best people for the job.


Scottish Housing Day was a wonderful way to celebrate a career in housing, but it must not exist as an event in isolation, but rather as the starting point for a journey, on which all partners working in and around the social housing sector should collaborate, to promote and protect the housing sector for the future.

We must work together to raise the profile of the housing sector amongst school pupils, graduates and those searching for jobs more broadly.

Housing is as vital a pillar of society as health and education, now is not the time for quietly working away, we must advertise and encourage careers in housing – like our communities depended on it – because they do!

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