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29 August 2018

A break from politics

A break from politics
Whilst the AMs and MPs are on recess, forgive me for briefly straying from politics and housing to talk about something that has been in the news, chatted about and all over social media over these last two weeks - exam results. I know it isn’t directly related to the work we do in the housing sector, but something that undoubtedly interests a great number of people, be they students, parents or just curious citizens. Pretty much everyone has done exams of some sort at some stage in their life and many will remember their August spent waiting on results for GCSEs or A-Levels (or O-Levels, or Highers, or Standard Grades or anything else!). It is a funny month; schools and universities are on holiday, offices are half empty, flights and hotels are twice the price and politicians pose for holiday photos to try to demonstrate that they have hobbies and interests outside of politics. Then, as the middle weeks of August arrive, so does the onslaught of photographs of smiling teenagers jumping in the air clutching pieces of paper.

Exam results do matter, but they are definitely not the be all and end all. They measure a tiny portion of a person and they don’t define what a person is capable of or how kind they are or a million other things that probably matter more in the grand scheme than Pythagoras’ theorem. Those people who pretend that they don’t matter at all take away from the effort that students everywhere put in. If you get As and tried really hard you do deserve to be proud, if you got Cs and tried really hard you deserve to be proud, if you passed and tried really hard you deserve to be proud. The grades people attain may mean they are naturally pretty good at retaining information and passing exams, it may mean that they put in an awful lot of effort and worked really hard. Both of these things are valuable and demonstrate skills that are useful in careers, but grading systems don’t acknowledge effort and obviously those who mark it won’t have a clue that Jane had spent every evening for the past three months revising just to scrape a pass in maths. In my secondary school, we were awarded effort grades as well as the standard A-U grading, 1 for maximum effort, 5 for didn’t try at all. People used to joke that A5 was the best grade to get; you’d got everything right, but hadn’t needed to put in any effort. It’s only now I am a grown up and working that I realise how much more important effort is than being naturally good at something.

It’s often said that people don’t choose to work in housing, but instead they fall into it. In a recent CHC survey of new joiners to the sector, we’ve found that 37% people never thought about a career in the housing sector then once a person has fallen into it, the housing sector can help them to flourish. Housing Associations have so many projects that allow tenants to develop practical skills for employment, whether that’s customer service, construction or technology, as well as helping tenants study to take GCSEs or gain other recognised qualifications. Housing can be a sector that rewards effort and recognises that a person who tries really hard to get somewhere, to gain qualifications, to gather experience, might actually be a really great employee. 65% of our survey respondents said that the best thing about working in social housing is the ability to make a difference! CHC is currently working with HR and Comms staff within the sector on a recruitment campaign to help raise awareness of the wide range of roles and the fantastic benefits that a career in the welsh housing sector can provide for 2019. This will also see us link up with schools, universities and employment organisations such as Career Wales to help get our message out there.