Recently I had the pleasure of launching at the House of Lords the new Housing and Property Apprenticeships, the culmination of a two-year Trailblazer programme I was asked to lead for the sector.
When the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) invited Aspire to lead the Trailblazer we reached out to colleagues across the sector.
We spoke to those working regularly with over 20 organisations and consulting widely to create a new professional apprenticeship pathway from entry level to senior manager in housing, and effectively reinvent our sector’s apprenticeships to meet the changing needs of the 21st century.
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I know from personal experience that a quality apprenticeship can have a positive impact on a career in developing skills, character and professional experience. I served an engineering apprenticeship with Michelin and it set my career on a positive path. It was a memorable time that still lives with me today, and so I gain a lot of satisfaction from helping to shape the next generation of apprenticeships.
Today apprenticeships are right at the core of policy like no other time before, with a pledge to create three million apprenticeships during this Parliament. In addition to this the apprenticeship reforms programme is laying the foundations for a revolution in vocational training.
The Trailblazer has raised the profile of the housing and property sectors as leading employers of highly skilled people, who are playing their part in striving to achieve these targets. The new standards bring the skills required by employers up to date with the current needs of the sector, and the assessment process provides a relevant and robust test of these acquired skills, knowledge and behaviours.
As we often work in areas of high deprivation, our sector knows only too well that the development of skills and creation of jobs leads to independence and social mobility. That is why we wanted to create a pathway from entry to management level.
We are looking forward to working with the Government on innovative initiatives such as National Apprenticeship Week, to create more apprenticeships, and through our employment and supply chains and local connections, we have the opportunity to create more social value through apprenticeships.
The Trailblazer has been a great example of people across the housing sector working together to develop new standards, relevant to both the affordable and private sectors. Our progress has been helped by unstinting support from professional bodies, trade organisations, employers and providers.
There was a really positive vibe around the House of Lords launch on February 23. It was attended by around 150 people from executives in the housing sector to MPs and apprentices. Despite the success of the event there are still further goals to achieve.
There is still a challenge to put apprenticeships on the same level as traditional skills or a university education, but there is evidence employers and providers are engaging better with youngsters and selling the apprenticeship pathway. We need to share the message that this is a pathway that is fresh and relevant today.
Since 2008, we have successfully delivered thousands of apprenticeships through our training arm, PM Training. Many of these apprentices may have previously had limited academic qualifications and often come from socially deprived areas of Staffordshire, where there are high levels of unemployment and inactivity among young people.
The apprenticeships they have served have often transformed their paths in life, raised their life aspirations and expectations, and influenced them to undertake lifelong learning and career development.