National Careers Week 2024

This week marks National Careers Week, which highlights the range of career paths and opportunities available to the UK’s labour market.

It’s also a time that businesses should use not only to celebrate supporting their employees’ careers, but to reflect on what they’ve achieved to date and how they can improve on the services they provide their people.

This is especially important for the social housing sector, which is estimated to directly employ about 200,000 people across the UK, as well as more indirectly through subcontractors.   

With over 1,900 employees across London and the south of England, it stands to reason that we at Aster? are constantly assessing how we’re able to improve our people offer. That means catering for both our existing colleagues and doing our bit to help grow the pipeline of talent feeding into the sector.

Supporting early careers

That’s doubly important at a time the sector faces an acute skills shortage.

At Aster, we’ve recently passed a significant milestone of 300 people trained through the Apprenticeship Levy since its introduction in 2017. With funding from the Levy, we’ve been able to enhance and broaden our training offering, which now includes traditional in-person classroom training alongside real-world, on-site experience.

Our workforce spans a wide range of occupations – from on-the-ground professions like electricians and plumbers to desk-based roles such as contact centre teams and Group services. With this in mind, it’s incredibly important to us that we don’t just offer blanket training programmes to our apprentices and, instead, ensure that the training provided caters to everyone’s needs and ambitions.

Growing with the workforce

But times have also changed since the Levy came in during 2017. The pandemic saw an increase in employees looking to explore different career paths. Businesses need to consider how they’re supporting their employees with this in mind. Engaging and retaining our teams is critical to ensuring the sector’s long-term health and sustainability.

We’re considering what this means for everyone at Aster.

That means evolving the career development programmes we offer our people as well as opportunities for them to transfer, grow and adapt their skills to different areas of the business to shape a portfolio career.

We’re beginning to see people pivot – and in some cases altogether transform – their career path from one profession to another. When our Tradespeople are ready to put down their tools we’re looking to redeploy their expertise with roles in our contact centre for example. From a housing sector perspective, with so many roles under one roof, we’re able to cater to these career changes. It’s a key way we can to tackle skills shortages and retain our people and their knowledge at a time when they’re needed most.

Rising to the flexibility challenge

Much has been said and written about the impact of the pandemic on working priorities, with an increasing number of people pursuing roles which allow them to have a greater work-life balance.

Recent research from Resource Solutions revealed that Gen Z employees are far more willing to take a pay cut to find more fulfilling careers and are flexible to changing industries throughout their working lives – far more than any other generation before them. Working for a purpose driven organisation and seeking a sense of belonging also ranks high up the list when considering opportunities.

That makes it important to build personalised flexible working approaches into our employee offer. And for this to be successful, our approach needs to be responsive and formulated through constant engagement with them.  

Flexibility, by definition, means different things to different people. Every individual will have different responsibilities and demands on their time outside of the workplace, which makes it important to listen to our people and support them in finding a balance that suits them. This is why a blanket approach to flexibility isn’t enough.

Building a holistic flexible working approach enables employees – whether they’re younger team members who prefer the social element of office working, parents working around the school day, or employees caring for their loved ones – to create a routine which supports them to thrive.

We’re also celebrating International Women’s Day, which this year looks to inspire inclusion. Reflecting on my own diverse career journey from journalism to communications to now leading the people and culture brief here at Aster, I recognise that flexibility has been key. Balancing the demands of work and family life, especially with two young children, has shown me firsthand the transformative impact of flexibility on both career progression and personal well-being.

For more information about this year’s National Career’s Week, and the work being done across sectors, I’d encourage readers to visit the National Careers Week website.

For more information on careers at Aster, please visit our website.

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