The National Housing Federation released a report saying that 3.7 million young people will be living with their parents by 2020 unless the UK addresses the shortage of affordable housing. Fast forward another 30 years and we will be facing a shortage of retirement accommodation with the number of people in the UK over 85 increasing from 1.4 million to 7.8 million by 2050.
When it comes to your career, every cloud has a silver lining. It’s old news that there is an industry-wide skills shortage within construction, the question is – why would you work in an industry short of professionals, in a sector that’s supposedly in crisis? A recent report by EC Harris concluded that an estimated one million new recruits are needed across a variety of professions in order to hit housing targets (source: Construction Enquirer). There is already a huge amount of residential construction going on in and around London; you just have to ride the career wave so that you land in the right place at the right time.
Residential work is not just about churning out boring projects for the sake of it; there numerous high-end major developments in prime locations – Arrowhead Quay Canary Wharf, 199 Westminster Bridge Road – and the outskirts – Stratosphere in Stratford. There are also multiple bespoke prime residential private dwellings in Chelsea and Mayfair where a lack of space offers a challenge to every project and results in basement excavations that could be a regular feature on Grand Designs. It’s not just the top end of the spectrum which is interesting; public sector regeneration schemes delivering affordable housing are grabbing just as many headlines. All this activity means top employers are looking to grow their residential teams with international consultancies back to full strength and the ambitious start ups showing no signs of slowing down.
For you it means you have options and you will have more luck getting into a reputable residential team because they need you, badly! Companies are becoming more open to people from different backgrounds: whether you are a PQS working in a different sector, a main contractor or client-side, moving into residential consultancy has never been easier. Gone are the days of interviewing 3 or 4 candidates for the same position, we are now in a market where specialists are hard to find and companies are looking to take on people with transferable skills to develop their own specialists. You are able to set your sights on where you want to be and engineer career moves to get you there.
The first move is to quantify your skills set and what will set you apart within the residential market. Due to the wide spectrum of work within the residential market there is niche for all types of strengths. If you have a keen attention to detail and prefer bespoke and unique work, then high-end could be just up your street. If you motivations are cost efficiency and social responsibility and you have a diligent, methodical way of working, then affordable housing might suit you best.
Understand, promote and enhance the traits that will see you through the next stage. Your personality will be a major contributing factor with the softer skills coming in to play: your ability to handle clients, build relationships and collaborate with teams from other organisations in order to deliver a service that will have clients coming back for more.
Establishing yourself within the residential market is just the first step. With more investment pouring into the UK and new developers springing up all the time the ability to proper yourself up the ladder is a reality. If building your own team sounds a bit rough and tumble, why not explore working developer-side in estates management or as a development manager. Failing that perhaps take on the world of private investment and begin formulating your own empire.
The property market is always in flux: recessions come and go. Make the most of the good times and get into the right sector with real career prospects, surround yourself with the right people and go for it.