Housing minister marks Apprenticeship Week by launching SFHA Apprentice Challenge 2015

The apprentices with Mary Taylor, SFHA chief executive (left) and housing minister Margaret Burgess.
The apprentices with Mary Taylor, SFHA chief executive (left) and housing minister Margaret Burgess.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess marked the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week (May 18-22) by launching a national challenge for housing apprentices yesterday.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Association (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 that are common amongst tenants such as social isolation, fuel poverty and mental health issues.

This is the second year of the Federation’s award-winning 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 said: “Apprenticeship Week 2015 is about showcasing the positive impact Modern Apprentices have on businesses and industry and the value they bring to employers and their own job prospects. 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.”

SFHA apprentice challenge1Clare King, 18, is in her first year of an enterprise Modern Apprenticeship. She is based at Ore Valley Housing Association in Fife.

Clare said: “I chose an apprenticeship as it’s an opportunity to achieve a qualification while earning a wage. At the same time, it gives you the chance to flourish, grow in confidence and gain knowledge and skills within a working environment. I think it’s the best way to initially approach the world of work.

“Besides the obvious qualification and experience that I am gaining through my apprenticeship, for me, the best part has been the support and different training I have received. I have not been thrown in the deep end, and my colleagues are understanding of my learning process and are happy to answer any queries that I may have.

“My main goal at the moment is to complete my Modern Apprenticeship, get as much experience as possible and, ultimately, be happy with what I am doing.”

Hannah Meldrum, 18, is in her first year of a housing management Modern Apprenticeship at Paragon Housing Association, Grangemouth.

She said: “I chose an apprenticeship in housing, because I thought it would be really interesting to learn about a sector that I did not know a lot about. I also thought it would give me a lot of valuable on-the-job experience. I felt that being a Modern Apprentice in housing would give me a lot of challenges to tackle, and I would be able to learn from these.

“I feel like I have gained a lot of confidence and now know how to deal with a wide variety of situations either on the phone or at reception. I have enjoyed meeting our service users and have been able to learn from other members of staff about helping people. I have also enjoyed learning from other team members about their own experiences and have gained a lot of knowledge from them.

“I look forward to completing my apprenticeship and receiving my qualification. I would like to widen the skill set and experience that I have gained and would like to continue to work in the housing sector and get a permanent job as this would allow me to use and develop the skills that I have learned.”

Mary Taylor, chief executive of the SFHA, added: “We are delighted that the Housing Minister is launching our 2015 Apprentice Challenge as this 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: “We welcome the launch of the SFHA Apprentice Challenge during Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2015.

“The Week is an opportunity to highlight the vast talents of Modern Apprentices and the benefit of earning while you learn. 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.”

The challenge was launched at SFHA member Irvine Housing Association’s (IHA) Pennyburn development.

Nicola Thom, IHA interim managing director, said: “We are delighted to play host to the launch of the Apprenticeship Challenge. We provide an employment and training service to our customers and believe that investing in young people and setting goals creates a sense of pride and ambition. For the past four years, we have also supported a local Ayrshire housing careers training programme, with five of the trainees gaining full-time employment with IHA.

“We wish the apprentices every success with the challenge and their future in the housing sector.”




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