On Wednesday 15th May, 2019, industry experts and opinion-forming panellists from across the Build to Rent (BTR) sector came together in our London base for the inaugural ‘UKAA Roundtable: Building a Workforce for Generation Rent’ event. With the industry set to more than treble over the next few years, this proved a crucial time to discuss the innovative approaches to building a successful workforce.
Andrew Deverell-Smith, deverellsmith’s founder and CEO, kicked off the roundtable by outlining the key issues for BTR if a change in tack and key actions aren’t given the right attention - namely a projected major dearth in talent as soon as 2020 and the need to educate and find the right people ahead of major demand.
There was a lively debate that covered topics around how operators will combat forecasted salary inflation and attract and retain the best individuals. While there was a general consensus that operators must look for inventive ways to attract customers and minimize operational costs, the roundtable agreed that creating and retaining the right team remained key in enabling the success of their schemes. Overall, it was a fascinating discussion with useful insights which provided much food for thought! A number of core themes discussed included:
Industry perception – Is BTR recognised as a career option?
While the sector is emerging and widely recognised amongst those working in the UK housing market, Iga Dabrowa, Head of Operations at Fizzy Living, questioned whether BTR is as a career option recognised by the general public. The roundtable concluded this is probably not the case.
Stephanie Smith, Director of Operations of Atlas Residential, challenged UKAA to explore ways of working with schools and universities to educate students on the sector, enabling BTR to be recognised as an attractive career option. The roundtable also noted the positive developments of qualifications such as the IRPM: Build to Rent, and how we should continue raising awareness of these qualifications for the public.
Industry experience – “BTR is a lifestyle experience connected to a customer journey”
Jeremy Fletcher, Chief Operating Officer at Tipi, stated that his vision on the sector is based around lifestyle. The role of his team is to deliver consistent, world class standards and service for their customers by creating an engaged community to drive retention and support the company business plan objectives.
Sebastian Moritz, Director at MORICON Consultants agreed, drawing on many comparisons within the hospitality industry and the gap in industry perceptions between both. This roundtable was in support, with other sectors such as retail, leisure and tourism put forward.
Training and Development – “The return on investment from training and development of employees is really a no brainer”
Olivia Harris, Chief Executive of Dolphin Harris, spoke about the difficulty in hiring a role earlier this year. A candidate with the exact profile was rare, and that person may not have even been the right fit for the business. They subsequently hired a candidate with similar experience but required some additional training, and this proved to be a great success to the business.
Debra Yudolph, Partner at SAY Property and Non Exec Director at deverellsmith agreed, presenting an a key point that despite many employers in the current climate finding development opportunities expensive, training and development provides both the individual and organisations as a whole with benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.
The UKAA Roundtable event provided much food for thought. The BTR sector will continue to diversify and new challenges will arise. It is crucial that we continue to work together as an industry to allow the BTR sector to flourish.
deverellsmith would like to thank The UKAA as well as all those that attended! If you would like to discuss the core themes further, or want to discuss your hiring strategy for your current or upcoming Build to Rent schemes, we’d love to hear from you!
Nick Hammond - Senior Consultant in Build to Rent, deverellsmith