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Future proofing the housing sector

GEM Programme Chair, Trevor Smith recently spoke at SFHA’s Our Sector, Our People Conference earlier in March 2021. Trevor has shared a blog with us about how our members can get involved with the GEM Programme.  

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By Trevor Smith, GEM Programme Director

Here at the GEM Programme, our mission is to future proof organisations in the housing sector by assuring a pipeline of diverse, talented, values-driven future housing professionals. We take seriously the demographic challenges facing housing. We deliver our mission in all parts of the U.K. and Ireland, and even as far as Canada and Australia. Our quest is to make a talent pool, a talent ocean. 

We recruit, develop and professionally qualify talent that might not have heard of the housing sector. We also grow upcoming colleagues who are currently at the formative stages of their careers in housing organisations. The GEM Programme challenges GEMs to look at themselves and the world of housing differently, fulfil their potential and become people of influence in their organisations and the wider housing sector. Since its inception, the GEM Programme has enabled almost four hundred GEMs to enter the world of housing or progress their careers from within.

The GEM Programme is firmly grounded in diversity because we grasp its vital importance to our future housing professionals’ learning and growth. We achieve this in a range of ways and are constantly innovating in our approach. First, we are a mixed organisation programme that blends some of the largest national players with the smallest niche organisations. GEMs also work in all of the functions found in the world of housing. 

To add to the diversity, our GEMs learn in collaboration with colleagues from different countries and cultures too. We have GEMs in Australia and Canada, and we receive graduates from the University of Hong Kong. In collaboration with our sister organisation in Holland, we share delivery of parts of our respective programmes to diversify the learning networks of GEMs. We are proud of our recruitment statistics which confirm 52% of GEMs are female, and 23% are BAME colleagues. We take pride in the innovative ways we work with our GEM partners to engage underrepresented talent groups of all kinds in the GEM Programme.

At the core of the twelve-month GEM, Programme is a values set that gives direction to all we do to develop a talent pool of purpose-driven, upcoming professionals; social justice is part of our bedrock. 

The design of the programme is based on experiential learning events we call GEM Shacks. These events create challenging learning experiences that require GEMs to find their feet and find their voice as people of influence. The GEM Shacks take place across the duration of the programme. They are designed and delivered in collaboration with our GEM partners and their GEMs. Each GEM Shack has a theme and brings to life the challenges of homelessness, regeneration, diversity and inclusion, 21st-century sustainable communities, housing policy and being a person of influence. 

CIH qualification is attached to the GEM Programme. All of the associated assignments are embedded in the design of the GEM Shacks; we avoid any ‘teach to test’. The intensive nature of the GEM Programme is recognised. We fast track GEMs to Chartered status with CIH, following successful completion of the programme. 

We know our GEM partners are vitally important to building the pipeline of future housing professionals. The GEM Programme has worked collaboratively with Wheatley Group since 2015. Together, we are committed to creating an entry point of choice in Scotland for careers in housing, the built environment and care. Our aim is to attract, retain, develop and professionally qualify the future talent needed to futureproof the housing sector in Scotland.

For more information on the GEM Programme, please contact:

Trevor Smith, GEM Programme Director 


Mobile: 07850061740

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