Graduates get together for seminar on 21st century communities
National building contractor United Living in partnership with the GEM Programme hosted 22 graduates from across the housing sector in the UK to look at the role of 21st century communities.
The graduates who attended the two-day programme are from the award-winning GEM Programme (Graduate Employment Mentoring) which is delivered by the Centre for Partnership, part of Incommunities housing group.
Ian Burnett, CEO of United Living said: “Working in partnership and delivering social gain are two of United Living’s core values. Our collaborative work with the GEM programme helps us to live these values through the recruitment and development of graduates who will become our future leaders.
“By understanding the housing sector and its people, the United Living GEM graduates are being prepared to play a vital role in addressing the issues we all face. It was a privilege to host the GEM Shack which looked imaginatively at 21st century communities”
Geraldine Howley, CEO of Incommunities Group and chair of the GEM Programme, said: “It was an innovative and important step for United Living to become a partner to the GEM programme. It reflects the importance of construction and assets to the future of the housing sector and the shared opportunity we face in recruiting and developing the best graduate talent. Having United Living GEM graduates working with other GEMs from housing providers across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland creates a new dynamic which helps us all to grasp the challenges housing faces in the 21st century.”
The two-day GEM Shack was a first in giving the graduates an insight into how the construction company operates by spending time on site with the United Living teams.
This was followed by an in depth look at the opportunities and challenges for 21st century communities, and what they need to thrive. The GEMs were tasked with presenting their ideas of what a 21st century community should look like.
The GEMs were joined by United Living customers Moat and City West Homes.
CEO of City West Homes Jonathan Cowie offered his vision for communicating with residents in the 21st century and gave the GEMs some advice. “The most important thing is to stay curious and keep your minds open,” he said. “Bricks and mortar are the physical activity of providing a home but the person living there is the most important thing.”
Marian Burke, ddirector of strategic asset investment at Moat, said: “With such a broad topic to address, 21st Century communities, it was interesting to see how the graduates approached their presentations. All four groups addressed a slightly different angle bringing together not only their area of study but also the experience they had gained since graduation. The ideas and innovations that were suggested gave me food for thought and some clear actions I could take back to my business to better shape the communities where we provide services. What was most heartening was the energy, focus and imagination the graduates had for the future of housing which not only inspired but gave confidence in our future leaders.”
The ideas presented by the GEMs included electric cars, bringing aspects of the ‘old’ type of community into the 21st century, with plenty of communal space for people to meet. While there is an obvious need for technology to play a big part in the home of a resident, the GEMs wanted less reliance on the virtual community and to encourage people to meet in person at community centres and cafes.
Anne Newman, people services director at United Living said: “I have been absolutely blown away by the passion and ideas brought forward by the GEMs at our GEM Shack. Our world is changing at an unprecedented pace and we need to be ready to respond with housing solutions that are both innovative and meet the needs of the customers and clients. The thought provoking ideas generated at the GEM shack will be developed further by United Living’s own GEM graduates together with our executive team to deliver future sustainable 21st century communities.”
The GEM programme is delivered by the Centre for Partnership, which is part of Incommunities. Each United Living GEM is employed for a minimum of two years. The programme leads to a Level 4 qualification in housing, accredited by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).