This week we sat down with Emma Tooth from Coast & Country Housing Association to discuss National Apprentice Week and the impact apprenticeships have on organisations. The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is how apprenticeships work for the apprentice, employer, local community and wider economy.
Can you tell us more about yourself and Coast & Country?
Established in 2002, Coast & Country is the largest registered housing provider in Redcar and Cleveland. Our current rental housing stock totals over 10,500 properties with estates located in a diverse range of urban areas, seaside resorts and rural villages.
On top of providing homes, we also provide specialist services such as HomeCall which enables people, especially older and more vulnerable individuals, to live independently in their own home. Re:Furnish, which is a not-for-profit enterprise, staffed by volunteers who curate and sell pre-loved furniture at affordable prices to help combat furniture poverty and our advice and guidance service to improve people’s skills to help get them into work, training or education.
I am the Apprentice Co-ordinator at Coast & Country and I’m responsible for looking after the Company’s apprentices. A key part of the role is coordinating with local colleges who provide the training and qualifications and delivering some training myself as part of the housing apprenticeship we offer.
How have you found working with Redcar and Cleveland College to deliver the apprenticeships?
It’s been a really good experience. New to the role, I hadn’t worked with the college for apprenticeships before, but found that there’s always somebody there to offer support and guidance, whether this is on the phone, through emails or even face to face meetings. If I have any concerns regarding an apprentice, the college if very proactive in helping and supporting us to improve the learning and outcomes for the apprentice. I am in regular contact with the apprenticeships team and assessors and I have welcomed the extra support about the new apprentice levy and assessment tools.
In September 2017, we recruited 12 new apprentices and chose Redcar and Cleveland College as one of our teaching providers as they are renowned for offering fantastic teaching and support for apprentices. Both organisations share many of the same values. We both place the local community at the heart of our services and believe investing in our future generations is important to the local area.
What are the benefits of hiring an apprentice to Coast & Country?
Offering young people apprenticeships gives us the chance to play an active role in moulding our future workforce and creating the future skills that we need to help our businesses grow. By making the commitment to offer apprenticeships we are building a strong employee loyalty; and by investing in apprentices’ careers we increase the chances of up-skilling, and more importantly, maintaining highly skilled staff.
Coast & Country are proud to offer young people the chance to kick-start a fulfilling career in the housing sector.
What are your future apprenticeship plans within Coast & Country?
The future of apprenticeships within the business is looking extremely positive. The organisation has recently developed a corporate target to recruit a minimum of 15 apprentices per year. We have recently hired another four apprentices so this year we will have surpassed our target and hired 16 apprentices across a range of roles.
We are also in the process of merging with Yorkshire Coast Homes so our organisation is growing and with that allows for even more opportunities.
This year’s National Apprenticeship Week theme is how do you think apprenticeships work for the apprentice, employer and local community – what are your thoughts on this?
For the apprentice it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills, experience the working environment and earn a salary whilst studying for a recognised qualification. They also gain a wide range of transferable skills such as communication, teamwork and organisation skills which can be used in a range of different workplaces. The apprentice really does receive skills for life!
In terms of employers, apprenticeships offer a great recruitment pathway allowing the employer to bring new staff into the business that we can support and develop with a structured career development pathway. Employing apprentices offers a strong retention rate within the business and allows the apprentice to develop and progress within the organisation. For example, a colleague of mine began her career as an apprentice and is now a Human Resources Business Partner within the organisation.
For the community and wider economy, apprenticeships offer another pathway for school leavers who feel that full time education is not right for them. This helps to prevent unemployment which helps to maintain prospering communities. One of our current apprentices, in the Youth Employment team, is supporting people aged 15-29 gain employment or training through our New Directions scheme.
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