SFHA launches housing apprentice action plan

Youngsters who took part in the 2015 Apprentice Challenge
Youngsters who took part in the 2015 Apprentice Challenge

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) has today launched an ambitious plan to increase the amount and range of Modern Apprenticeships that are available in the country.

The Housing Apprentice Action Plan for Scotland 2017–2020 aims to help build a motivated workforce and ensure the housing sector is viewed as an attractive employment destination for young people who are looking for a fulfilling career.

The action plan aligns with the Scottish Government’s commitment to growing and widening Modern Apprenticeships across Scotland, with the aim to increase equality and diversity by addressing issues around gender, additional support and complex needs, and minority group participation – including BME young people.

It also builds on SFHA initiatives since 2014 to highlight the importance of apprenticeships. One such initiative was the award-winning Apprentice Challenge, a competition for young workers, which ran for three years.

A steering group, led by SFHA, and consisting of Skills Development Scotland, CIH Scotland, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO), SHARE, EVH, Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and PATH Scotland helped to inform the plan.

The SFHA also received support and input from representatives from housing associations and local authorities as well as a group of recent and current apprentices.

Case study

Megan Morrison, Housing and Admin Trainee, Fyne Homes, and winner of the Apprentice Challenge 2016

“I was the Fyne Homes’ first ever apprentice, and finished my year-long Modern Apprenticeship last August. On completing my apprenticeship, I was offered a full-time, permanent position in the housing department.

What really appealed to me about an apprenticeship was that I would be learning on the job, gaining work and life experience. I would be getting paid, educated, qualified and trained.

“I shadowed colleagues within the different departments of the organisation and, every day, I was given more responsibility and tasks, which was challenging at times, but very rewarding. I learned something new every day, which I believe was building and strengthening my self-confidence.

“Working in this environment gave me real insight into the housing sector. This is why I would believe it’s really important that the housing sector increases the number and types of Modern Apprentices it employs, as you are giving a young person, like me, a chance of becoming successful.

“My apprenticeship has helped me decide on the career path that I wish to pursue. I really hope that I can encourage young people to apply for apprenticeships, as you can gain great success, just like mine.”

SFHA chief executive, Mary Taylor, who retires at the end of June, first started her career in the housing sector as a trainee with Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA).

She said: “Now coming to the end of my career, having started out as an unemployed graduate in the late seventies, I cannot imagine how I might have got a foothold in housing without having the chance of a traineeship with SSHA. At that time, our predecessors recognised the importance of a skilled, qualified and motivated workforce – graduate and non-graduate alike – to bring in the fresh blood and vigour to drive change and renewal in a variety of housing roles.

“The SFHA wants to see a thriving housing sector that continues to provide sustainable and affordable homes in Scotland, however, evidence demonstrates that there is still more that we can do to support workforce development across housing.

“One of the main aims of this action plan is to ensure that resources and investment are made in the housing workforce to protect succession management and guarantee a skilled and diverse workforce that can provide sustainable services to people across Scotland. We would like all housing organisations, regardless of size, to consider Modern Apprenticeships as part of their recruitment strategy and build a human legacy for the housing movement.

“We would like to see flexible funding raised through the new apprentice levy to address current and future skills gaps and grow apprenticeships of all levels and disciplines.

“Many of today’s leaders would have struggled to get started without traineeships and apprenticeships. Now it’s our turn to develop the next generation.”

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