We are supporting National Apprenticeship Week (Feb 3-9) by giving our next two apprentices’ careers a flying start and raising standards in the borough’s job market.
Lorri Holding, our head of customer service, said: “Some people seem to think an apprenticeship is very old fashioned or taking advantage of people looking to get a foot on the career ladder but we look beyond those narrow stereotypes.
“We want our apprentices out in the communities we serve making a positive impact to individuals and tenant groups, not making the tea. It is down to us to give them the practical skills and the opportunities to achieve this.”
An apprenticeship is a genuine job that combines practical training with study. They are available to anyone over the age of 16 with no upper age limit. Some 400,000 people began apprenticeships last year.
Apprentices work alongside experienced staff gaining skills and earning a wage but also are given time off – usually one day a week – for study related to their role.
Lorri said: “The business community often complains it does not get the quality of the staff it wants citing lack of experience or practical skills, particularly in younger people fresh out of education. We take seriously our role of developing productive members of staff whose skills gained with us would be of benefit in many other fields.”
We have been investing in apprenticeships for more than a decade and are in the process of taking on this year’s housing and maintenance apprentices. The two successful applicants will focus their initial training in housing services or customer service.
They will work alongside our housing officers and the customer service teams, developing their understanding of housing management, customer engagement and the related admin and IT skills required with all housing roles today or alongside maintenance officers, developing technical program management and surveying skills.
Lorri added: “The allocated training will be shaped around the role and individual needs. This ensures that each apprentice gets the best out of the placement and feels job-ready at the end of their time with us.”
Admin support Charlotte Bate-Nilsson started at WHA as an apprentice two years ago. She said: “When I came to WHA I really wasn’t ready for work. I’d had a few jobs, but they weren’t great experiences.
“I wasn’t treated like part of the team. Some of what I was expected to know when I was new to the role really affected my confidence. When I look back now, people treated the apprentices badly, like they were something to endure.
“It was only when I came to WHA I realised an apprenticeship wasn’t about making tea or doing the jobs everyone hated. It was about support, training, mentoring and most of all, being an equal part of the team.
“I’m so different now, I’m so confident. I can prioritise work. I can pick up tasks from my colleagues and I know that what I’m doing every day makes a difference – not only to my team but to the tenants that phone up for support. I’m so proud of the difference we make to people.
“Before I came here I’d never make a phone call, I was so shy. Now I’m great on the phone, I’m confident about what I know and I’ve learnt how to communicate on a number of levels and can chat to anyone now. It’s made me a different person in work and at home and that makes me feel great.
“I’d love to stay here, you’d be mad not to but if I do move on, I’m confident I can bring so much to another role somewhere else.
“My advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship is – don’t think twice, just do it, but when you do, get involved, ask lots of questions so you can learn more and know that being in an effective team is everything!”