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

Council housing team boosts skills with CIH qualifications


More than 35 housing professionals at Hull City Council have achieved CIH qualifications as part of a two-year bespoke training programme. We spoke to neighbourhoods and housing practice manager Ria Toutountzi to find out how the council and its staff will benefit.

Why did the council decided to invest in this kind of training programme?

It’s actually the first time we’ve done it like this – historically we would give two or three people every year the opportunity to complete a CIH degree-level qualification, and we would always get 20 or 30 people wanting to do it. It really benefited the people who did it – their careers would always progress quite quickly – but there was obviously an unmet development need there. It was great for people who got the ‘golden ticket’ but what about everyone else? We wanted to meet that demand and we also wanted to give our staff more knowledge and understanding of the wider housing sector.

How did it work in practice?

We opened it up to everyone and it wasn’t just frontline staff like tenancy officers who took part, we had a real mix of people from all over the housing service, from repairs and maintenance to regeneration. We decided to offer the Level 3 and Level 4 Certificate in Housing Practice because we had staff at different levels – some hadn’t done an academic qualification since school and some already had degrees and other qualifications. It was a blended learning programme so we had a tutor coming in regularly plus online study.

Initially people found it more difficult than they’d thought it was going to be. We’d made having a mentor optional and next time around we’d make that more formal. But quite quickly people got into peer groups to support each other and we made a big shared folder available full of resources to help people with their research and assignments.

We also got people from other areas of the council involved to speak to the team on the various modules – people from our legal services and finance team for example. The learners found that really useful, it really opened their eyes to how everything fits together.

What has the feedback from staff been like?

Really good. We had 16 people complete the Level 3 and 21 did the Level 4. We’ve had comments including:

“I thoroughly enjoyed this course, it was challenging at times but well worth the effort. The course content was very relevant to my day-to-day role and provided me with a wider understanding of how we all contribute to delivering the housing service and the future challenges we all face.”

“Although there was a significant amount of my personal time required to complete this course I can only say that I have benefited significantly. I can definitely say I have been enriched by the whole process.”

How do you feel the council has benefited?

As well as giving more people the opportunity to complete CIH qualifications, we wanted to really re-instil professional standards in our housing service by bringing a large number of people up to a really high standard and it’s definitely achieved that. More than 15 per cent of our frontline housing staff now have a professional qualification as a result of this investment.

Need to boost the skills in your organisation? CIH can work with you to develop a bespoke training programme tailored to your needs. Whether you’re looking for training courses on everything from anti-social behaviour to fire safety, rent arrears, resident scrutiny and leadership or formal qualifications, we can help. Get in touch on 024 7685 1735 or

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