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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Learning shouldn't stop for lockdown


Professionalism in housing and continuing to build knowledge, skills and behaviours is an important part of being a housing professional. This Learning at Work Week, we’re celebrating with lots of discussions about training and development, as well as lots of blogs from across the sector about why continuing to learn is exceptionally important. In this blog, Andrew Smith, learning and development officer tells us why, within the Kingdom Group, learning hasn’t stopped for lockdown.

At Kingdom, we were quick to identify the potential issues around COVID-19 and just as quickly, mobilised resources and issued staff with equipment to allow them to safely and securely work from home, while continuing to offer a superb level of service to our tenants.

There are three areas we’re really focusing on. The first is supporting ongoing learning.

We’ve made great use of video conferencing, and working with partner providers such as SHARE, we moved the delivery of the CIH Level 3 course fully online, with 12 staff from across the organisation undertaking the course.

Our e-learning platform continues to be available to all staff, with a choice of over 300 courses ranging from health and safety to management development. We have also continued our in-house knowledge sharing sessions using Zoom. The housing DRIVE team holds regular “pitstop” events, a series of internal training sessions where teams across the organisation provide presentations to housing colleagues to explain what they do, followed by a Q&A. This helps develop cross team understanding and relationship building.

And we can’t forget our graduates.

The Kingdom graduate trainee programme was devised to include a programme of internal placements, with some additional external placements with key organisations within the housing sector. The programme was interrupted due to COVID-19, but working with our partners, we have secured ‘virtual’ external placements for our trainees through the University of Stirling with whom students are studying for the postgraduate diploma in housing.

Our graduate trainees are working on a research project on the impact of COVID-19 on the housing sector. We are also talking to CIH about ‘virtual’ external placement for later in the year, with physical placements planned over the remainder of the traineeships once lockdown is over.

The second thing we’re focusing on is continuing to build staff morale.

We have worked hard to offer colleagues in Kingdom the support they need remotely, offering advice and assistance on self-development, not only in work time but recreationally too.

We have kept in contact with our furloughed staff, offering advice on learning and professional development while on furlough leave. There has been learning in lots of diverse subjects like digital photography, health and fitness, diet and nutrition, photoshop, calligraphy, mental health and wellbeing and mindfulness, all the while, assisting them to complete their Kingdom e-learning successfully.

Our health and wellbeing officer has hosted an online mindfulness course three times a week and has just procured an online Pilates session for staff to attend, along with a daily health and wellbeing promotional email.

Every Friday, we tell our colleagues about a ‘course of the week’ which contains learning options from our online platform, as well as a selection of courses or MOOC’s (Massive Open On-line Courses) available from providers such as the Open University and Future Learn. We also include recreational offerings such as virtual tours of global landmarks, galleries and national parks.

Our final area of focus is business continuity with inductions and appraisals.

We are continuing to onboard new staff using our e-learning platform so that they can remotely complete our mandatory induction training.

We are also moving towards delivery of an online, on-demand version of our corporate induction, usually done in person by our CEO Bill Banks and senior management team. This will involve recording each person delivering their induction presentation and having these stored for viewing when required. Continuing professional development is also being maintained through regular 1-1’s and personal development plan meetings.

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