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3rd Feb 2020
Chris Mason electrician at Broadland Housing Group

A leading Norfolk-based housing association which has seen its workforce enhanced through embracing Apprenticeships is calling on more employers to get behind the scheme and reap the benefits it can bring, as the UK celebrates National Apprenticeship Week (3rd-7th February).

Broadland Housing Group, which provides more than 5,000 homes across Norfolk and north Suffolk, has been enthusiastically welcoming apprentices into its 200 strong workforce since 2010, with a good proportion going on to secure permanent roles at the end of their apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships have been really beneficial for us as an employer,” says James Godfrey, head of HR Services at Broadland. 

“They are every bit as beneficial for us as an employer as they are for the apprentices themselves, introducing us to some amazing people of all ages, allowing us to develop them into well-skilled and motivated colleagues who bring a new dimension to our workforce.  In fact, we're one of the top 100 not-for-profit organisations in the Best Companies Survey, which is an independent survey completed by employees.

“Offering quality apprenticeships has allowed us to attract really high-calibre raw talent into a sector where there is a recognised skills shortage, and to develop skills which are directly relevant to our needs as an employer.  It’s a real win:win.”

Broadland’s apprenticeship scheme has seen trainees in a wide range of disciplines during the ten years it has been running, including office-based roles such as business admin and customer service; trades such as plumbing, gas and electrical; and multi-disciplinary apprenticeships taking in a range of departments including HR, finance, housing, property management and facilities.

“At one time, apprenticeships were seen as the second choice, the poor relation when it came to recruiting new talent,” says Mr Godfrey. 

“I would say that for most employers, they should now be seen as very much the Gold Standard, just a relevant as other routes into employment, and in some cases more beneficial for employers, because they offer a bespoke route to a well-trained workforce.”

Case Study: Chloe Calver

Chloe Calver is a scheme manager at two of Broadland’s sheltered housing schemes, Oulton Court in Oulton Broad and Samford Court in Beccles.  She joined Broadland in January 2018 as an apprentice and studied for her NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration, which she completed in January 2019.

“I was working in the care industry and had gone as far as I wanted to go,” says Chloe.  “I had always wanted to improve my skills in admin. I applied to be an apprentice local area advisor at Broadland and quickly learnt lots of new skills.

“I received a great deal of support from my colleagues and my NVQ tutor, and was given many opportunities to progress in my career.  Starting as an apprentice with Broadland is the best decision I could ever have made.”

Case Study: Chris Mason

Chris Mason perhaps doesn’t fit the general perception of an apprentice: he was in his mid-30s and working in security at Norwich City Football Club when he decided to start an electrical apprenticeship at Broadland Housing.

He had two young children at the time, so it was a big decision to change career.  He qualified in 2019, and is now an electrician in Broadland’s Repairs team.

“At college I felt a bit awkward – the next oldest apprentice to me was 20!” he laughs.  “But I could draw on my life experience.  I had done a little engineering and labouring, so I was going back to something I loved.  And I was willing to learn.

“I knew I had to be the one to fetch things from the van or pick up the broom at the end of the day.  I was happy to do that, it’s the apprentice’s role.  Today I still enjoy getting up every day to go to work, and enjoy each new challenge.”

Case Study: Lucy Rose

HR coordinator Lucy has worked at Broadland since 2011.  She started her apprenticeship in the Facilities team, completing NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Business Administration before working her way up the organisation to her current role in the HR team.

“Unlike some apprentices, I didn’t start my apprenticeship straight from school or after A-Levels,” she explains.  “I was working in a job with no career progression.  At the age of 20 decided I needed to do something to help myself.

“The skills and experience I got from my apprenticeship helped me to secure a permanent role at Broadland.  Looking back, doing my apprenticeship was probably the best decision I’ve made career-wise.  I experienced the office environment and continued to develop at the same time.”

Case Study: Liam Cook

Income recovery officer Liam Cook started his apprenticeship in Customer Services.  After working as a Customer Services Advisor, he joined the Income Recovery team as income recovery assistant, which led to his current post.

“After completing my A-Levels I was unsure of my next step.  I was reluctant to go to university and an apprenticeship seemed the right option for me.  It has opened the door to new opportunities and challenges.

“I have a recognised qualification and I’ve gained real job experiences that have had a positive impact on my career so far.”

National Apprenticeship Week

‘Look Beyond’ is the theme for National Apprenticeship Week, with the aim of celebrating the diversity and value that Apprenticeships bring not just to the apprentices themselves, but to employers as well.

The national campaign is calling on young people to look beyond traditional routes into employment and explore the diversity of career options and industries now available to them through apprenticeships.  It is also encouraging employers to look beyond traditional hiring routes and shout about the value they already see from diversifying their workforce by employing apprentices

More details at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/get-fired-up-for-national-apprenticeship-week-2020