Apprentice Challenge highlights the importance of nurturing young talent

Juliette Duff (left) with fellow ng homes apprentices Joseph Amouzou and Iona Wilson
Juliette Duff (left) with fellow ng homes apprentices Joseph Amouzou and Iona Wilson

A national two-day challenge for housing apprentices will kick off today.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) Apprentice Challenge will see 20 young people from housing associations and co-operatives across Scotland take on a two-day challenge during the SFHA’s annual conference.

They will work in teams to devise a communications strategy which could be implemented by a social landlord to help tackle and raise awareness of problems such as social isolation, fuel poverty and mental health issues.

This is the second year of the Federation’s challenge which aims to further consolidate the skills of the modern apprentices and highlight the important role that apprenticeships play as a vital first step on the career ladder.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess launched the challenge during Scottish Apprenticeship Week (May 18-22). Mrs Burgess will also deliver a ministerial address to the SFHA’s conference later today.

She said: “The apprentices taking part in the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations Apprentice Challenge are a small group of a much greater number who are being supported to create enthusiastic and skilled workers in the housing sector.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting young people towards jobs and apprenticeships, with an aim to have 30,000 new opportunities by 2020. By employing Modern Apprentices, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ members are helping create a dynamic and experienced workforce.”

Iona Wilson and Juliette Duff are Commonwealth apprentices at ng homes which is based in North Glasgow.

Iona, 18, said: “I chose to do this apprenticeship as I felt it was a great opportunity.

“During my apprenticeship I have enjoyed meeting new people and getting the chance to learn new things every day.

“In the future, I hope to gain more qualifications in housing, and I hope to stay within this sector.”

Juliette, 19, said: “I chose to do the apprenticeship as I thought it was an opportunity I shouldn’t miss out on.

“I have enjoyed meeting new people, learning new skills and gaining valuable experience in the workplace which will set me up for the future.

“My plan for the future is to pursue a career in human resources, which will hopefully be in the housing sector.”

Head of organisational development for ng homes, Tony Sweeney, added: “We are delighted that our apprentices are taking part in the SFHA Apprentice Challenge for 2015. If last year is anything to go by, it will be a great experience for them and an opportunity to meet and work with other apprentices across Scotland. We wish them all the best of luck in the challenge and look forward to the results which will no doubt provide delegates with some fresh, innovative ideas and solutions.”

Mary Taylor, chief executive of the SFHA, said: “Our Apprentice Challenge highlights the importance of apprenticeships in the social housing sector. Apprenticeships can give young people the vital skills and experience which they need to gain permanent employment, and nurturing young talent now will benefit the sector in the future.

“We decided to hold the challenge again this year, as it is an excellent way of consolidating the apprentices’ learning, and we must engage with young people in our sector, as they are a vital part of keeping it fresh and forward thinking.”

The challenge is being supported by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

Katie Hutton, depute director of national training programmes at SDS, said: “This event from SFHA will allow the apprentices to showcase the skills they are developing through their training and demonstrates the benefits of the programme to employers.”



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