Candidates Ride The Housing Wave

Foundations are in place for six ambitious young people from North Staffordshire to have a successful career in housing.

Housing ApprenticeThe fortunate group of under-24s have been selected to take part in a trail-blazing apprenticeship scheme which could see them qualify as housing officers in as little as two years.

The life-changing opportunity comes as the government underlines its pledge to dramatically increase house building in the UK.

“The housing sector can offer some of the best career opportunities around,” said Will Nixon, Director of Regeneration for the Aspire Group.

The apprenticeships have been launched thanks to a unique collaboration between Aspire Housing, Epic Housing and Staffordshire Housing Association, whose common aim is to ensure a supply of talented, qualified youngsters entering the sector in future years.

The successful candidates – chosen from dozens of hopeful applicants and a final shortlist of ten – will receive training and on-the-job experience culminating in NVQ qualifications recognised throughout the industry.

The course is being delivered by PM Training, a social enterprise that tackles worklessness among young people and part of the Aspire Group. It is believed the pioneering programme is the first of its kind in the West Midlands.

Will Nixon, who combines his Aspire Group role with that of PM Training Chief Executive said: “Despite the economic environment the need for good quality housing and services remains as strong as ever so these young people are joining a sector that is critically important and their new skills will be in great demand for years to come.”

Barry Pitts, business development director with Staffordshire Housing Association added: “We built the scheme to give the apprentices a broad housing experience, and they are being rotated between the three organisations. They are settling in well and we look forward to seeing them develop into the housing sector’s future leaders.”

The apprentices were recruited from two age groups – 16-18, and 19-24 – and will be learning key skills such as customer service and estate management.

They will emerge with a full understanding of the housing sector and a more detailed knowledge of the three sponsor associations.

Julie Hallam, PM Training’s Customer Services Manager said: “The three younger candidates are working towards NVQ Level 2 in customer service for the first 12 months, and will then progress to the two year housing apprenticeship programme.

“The other three – who have all left other jobs to join the programme – have gone straight onto the housing apprentice scheme. Although previously employed they wanted something that offered a proper career structure.”

Twenty-one-year-old Nicola Morgan, who is training to be a housing officer, has been impressed by the scheme: “The opportunity just came out of the blue. I moved to this area recently from Bolton where I had been in retail, and was looking for work,” she said.

“When I read the specification for this job it seemed really interesting, so I applied. And it really is interesting. I’ve been out with the neighbourhood officers a few times and there are so many different things going on.

“It’s something different every day.”

She added: “Housing as a career is really undersold. No-one ever brought it up as a potential career, and it wasn’t something I had considered before, but I’d certainly recommend it.”

Date issued: 25.08.10