'It was the right time to enhance my housing career prospects'
Lawrie Murphy recently finished studying towards CIH's Level 4 Certificate, a one-year vocational qualification which focuses on housing strategy, policy and theory. While he was learning, we caught up with him to see how he was getting on and find out why the Level 4 has proved vital to his career development.
Hi, Lawrie. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and what your role within the housing sector is?
I’m a 35 year old, married father of two and massive Cardiff City fan, and I work as a housing advice officer within the homelessness team of Caerphilly County Borough Council. I have worked in the housing department in various roles within the authority for the last 13 years, seven of which have been within the homeless team.
Why did you choose to sign up for the Level 4 qualification? How did you feel it would support you in your work?
I decided to get involved with the Level 4 course as I felt it was the right time to further enhance my housing career prospects. Even though I have the experience and a number of non-housing qualifications, the fact that I didn't hold a relevant housing qualification meant that I was unable to apply for further vacancies that arose within my department - so I wanted to rectify this.
Was it important to you that the Level 4 course is completed entirely online?
It was very important - and another ‘plus point' of why I decided to undertake the course. I didn’t want the hassle of travelling to study at university and then spending hours listening to long lectures (been there, done that!). By studying online I was able to read the learning material from a range of devices in my own time, whether this was during my lunchbreak, during my son’s football practice or from the comfort of my living room! It was ideal for me.
What did you hope to gain from completing the Level 4 Certificate - apart from the qualification itself?
I hoped to gain a wider knowledge of aspects of housing that I wasn't overfamiliar with before, such as housing policy, economics and finance. The course has also helped me to gain the confidence and drive to pursue further online courses with CIH - I'm looking at undertaking the Level 5 Professional Diploma in Housing next year.
Can you describe an average week of study for a Level 4 learner?
As the modules are split over eight-week periods, I would try to spend the first four weeks completing the module’s reading material and any associated tasks. I would spend around six to eight hours per week doing this - normally in the evening once my children had gone to bed or during any spare hour I came across, including my son’s football practice!
I would then spend a further two weeks undertaking any assignment research and making notes. Finally, I'd spend the remaining time writing the assignment. With a busy family life it was sometimes difficult to stick to these timeframes, especially in the summer months. However, one way I got round this was to use flexi leave from work and spend a full day concentrating on the assignment.
What would you say to other housing professionals who are considering taking a CIH qualification?
If you're committed and want to achieve a qualification in your own time then a CIH online course like the Level 4 is ideal. Although at times it can be challenging, the modules are interesting and the assistance I received from my tutor was excellent. She was always on-hand to discuss any queries I had, even on weekends, whether this was via email or telephone call. It was also really easy to access the reading materials via my laptop, tablet or mobile phone, which was a massive help for me. I'd absolutely recommend the Level 4 course - it's definitely helped me in my career progression.