The two bodies have raised concerns that workforce professionalisation might be challenging to deliver “in such a short timescale” 

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and National Housing Federation (NHF) have both called for a longer transition period to allow social housing managers more time to start training courses before new professional qualifications rules come into effect.

In their response to the government’s consultation on the competence and conduct standard, which closes tonight, NHF and CIH called for a transition period of five and three years respectively. This is longer than the two-year period currently proposed by the government.

The competence and conduct standard, which will require an estimated 25,000 housing managers to hold a level four of five qualification in housing, will come into effect in April 2025.

The NHF has said that the two-year transition period proposed by the government “risks placing an excessive burden on housing association finances, the capacity of staff to deliver and train simultaneously, and on training providers who will be required to deliver a large amount of training over a short period”.

The trade body, which represents around 800 housing associations, believes there should be a transition period of at least five years.

The government’s proposals state that relevant managers must have been in role for six months before they must comply with the competence and conduct standard. If they have a probation period, they must enrol onto a professional qualification after nine months in their role.

The NHF has said that the transition period for new staff should be extended from nine months to 24 months, to promote a workforce that brings skills from various different industries.

It said: “This shift would reduce the potential entry barrier to working in our sector that a mandatory qualification will present.”

It says this would minimise impact on delivery capacity and allow for the cost to be spread over a longer period of time. In addition, the NHF added that it would give more time for the wider labour market to build understanding of the expectations and ensure there is sufficient training capacity.

The NHF has said there needs to be more clarity around which qualifications will be passported fully or partially, and that those with partial qualifications should be given recognition beyond the transition period, particularly in cases where the manager has higher level qualifications relevant to their role. 

The NHF has suggested that ”a lighter touch, fast-track approach” should be developed for managers with significant housing experience. It has suggested that continuous professional development, short courses, or an experience-based assessment, rather than an accredited qualification, could be used to close any assessed skills gap. 

In addition, the NHF has suggested that for those in the final years of their careers, an option for exemption should be developed.

A spokesperson for the CIH said the substantial number of individuals requiring level four or five qualifications will impose significant costs on organisations. She said there has been some concern raised by its members about whether the two-year transition period is long enough.

In its consultation response, the CIH has therefore proposed a three-year transition period to “help smooth the transition”.

The spokesperson said that “momentum needs to be maintained with this, you could suggest [an extension of] five or ten years but people would lose that momentum”.

>> See also: Back to school: what is the social housing sector doing to get ready for mandatory qualifications?

>> See also: Being EPIC : talking housing professionalisation with new CIH president Jill Murray

The CIH said that members have also expressed concerns about recruitment and retention in the social housing sector.

She said: “If senior professionals are experienced in their career, but are thinking about retirement, there might be a risk that it disincentivises those people and they might move to other sectors or retire early. It might also have an impact on people getting into a career into housing.”

On the topic of local authorities receiving funding for the professional qualifications, the CIH has suggested that this could be considered through new burdens funding.

The CIH has also suggested allowing the apprenticeship levy to be used to fund qualifications, as well as apprenticeships.