Hightown Housing Association Apprenticeship Case Study

Company: Hightown Housing Association www.hightownha.org.uk
Key Industry: Building and Construction
Key Sector: Affordable Housing


Hightown is a charitable housing association (operating in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire) aiming to help people who need support and care or who cannot afford to buy or rent a home at market values. They do this by building hundreds of much needed new homes and providing care and supported housing services for a wide range of people.

In the summer of 2016, Hightown wanted to look at the possibility of recruiting an apprentice. This wasn’t a new path for Hightown as they had taken on apprentices before but had not taken on an apprentice in this area of the business previously.

Hightown was also aware of other important facts to consider, such as:

  • 88% of employers who hire apprentices believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce (source: National Apprenticeship Service).
  • You can create and manage tailored apprenticeship programmes to meet the needs of your business.
  • They are a cost effective and low risk way for you to grow your workforce and help improve the recruitment and retention of staff.
  • For apprentices, it gives them a chance to gain work experience, achieve nationally recognised qualifications and earn a wage.

The Challenge

Hightown’s aim was to appoint a proactive apprentice to join its caretaker team after the success it had had with apprentices in its Care and Supported Housing department.

Hightown understands that it is essential to appoint the right candidate and invest time in them; it is important they feel valued and that the organisation is actively proactive in their development.  Candidates will leave if they feel they are not learning new fundamental skills which will in some way provide them with a future career path.

The Solution

By working closely with both West Herts College and Skillmakers, Hightown put in place a plan to ensure a successful outcome.

The benefits to Hightown in developing and implementing an Apprenticeship Programme are numerous but essentially include:

  • Finding future employees – Apprenticeship Programmes would enable Hightown to appeal to tomorrow’s staff members when looking to recruit to permanent or fixed-term positions. This would in turn reduce the expenditure on recruitment advertising;
  • Increase employee-retention rate – According to Tribal, 85% of employers reported a higher 12-month retention rate among employees they had recruited via their Apprenticeship Programmes;
  • Enhanced perspective – Apprentices would bring with them novel perspectives, fresh ideas and specialised strengths and skill sets. This augments the abilities of the professional workforce;
  • Give something back – Creating an Apprenticeship Programme is an excellent way to give something back. Apprenticeship Programmes help young people to get started in their careers and enhances the local workforce as a whole;
  • Support young people – Apprenticeship Programmes provide young people with numerous benefits including opportunities to gain valuable experience, develop skills, make connections, strengthen their CVs, learn about a particular specialism, and assess their interest and abilities.
  • Enhance the leadership capability within Hightown – Apprentices can be placed to work with members of staff who do not currently have any direct supervisory responsibility. This placement provides an opportunity for these members of staff to develop new skills and enhance existing skills and enhances Hightown’s succession planning thus again negating recruitment and advertising costs.

The Result

In September 2016 Hightown appointed JJ, who works 4 days a week and spends the other day at West Herts College completing his NVQ2 Diploma Course.

Having met with West Herts College prior to starting the process it was evident that Hightown, would not hit every element of his training plan within his daily duties, of roofing maintenance and repairing stone masonry structures.

However, Hightown has a number of approved contractors and has arranged for JJ to spend time with one of their contractors, FSG, on a number of schemes and voids, in order for him to work on those areas and complete such aspects of his course that Hightown would not normally have been able to offer in his day-to-day duties.

JJ’s time is split on a variety of areas including General Needs properties and Care and Supported Housing schemes, as well as Hightown House central office. JJ completes maintenance work across these areas and has helped improve the standard which has become noticeable to both residents and staff alike. Since his introduction JJ has developed a wealth of skills and knowledge including his own self-confidence and has played an integral part in various projects, including the creation of an onsite staff gym, where he completed painting, decorating, plastering and plumbing works. JJ has also completed work at our central office including pointing, brickwork and horticultural maintenance.

Mark Rooney, Estates and Facilities Manager for Hightown said, “As an employer it is in our interest to continually develop JJ to reduce external costs and speed up the completion process. And, as a member of staff, as opposed to a contractor, he is likely to see the completed work almost every day and therefore take personal pride in its end result.

“As a result of this and JJ’s positive can-do attitude we are looking to develop his skills even further as a skilled multi-trader and he has recently completed PAT testing, legionella testing, plumbing and electrical maintenance to name a few.

“At the end of JJ’s 2-year course we are looking to appoint him as a permanent member of staff, which gives both parties a shared incentive to succeed. I am confident that JJ will complete his Level 2 diploma successfully and will be with Hightown for the foreseeable future thereafter.”

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