Traditionally, when we think of apprenticeships, it is engineering and electrical trades that spring to mind. However over the last few years this has changed drastically and apprenticeships are available in wide range of industries, producing huge benefits for individuals, businesses, communities and the wider economy.

Recently, the UK government has increased its focus on apprenticeships and in 2017, 114,400 young people started apprenticeships in England, in sectors such as housing, health, engineering, and business. Earlier this month the UK marked its 11th National Apprenticeships week, which brought together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging even more people to choose apprenticeships as a pathway to a great career.

While the apprenticeship levy, which came into force nearly a year ago, saw a dramatic fall in the number of these opportunities offered directly after launch, today, figures show there are currently 8,400 positions available, in fields spanning from housing, education to engineering and even trainee legal roles in small firms to national and international companies.

Following five successful years delivering Chartered Institute of Housing Qualifications to over 170 learners, YMCA Birmingham was recently approved to deliver Housing Apprenticeships under the new Apprenticeship Levy.

Richard Brookes, Training manager at YMCA Birmingham said: “It made perfect sense for us to be moving into Housing Apprenticeships as we have delivered the qualifications for so long and have a loyal bank of organisations who trust us to deliver not only good quality training, but also training that is meaningful.”

YMCA Birmingham is approved to deliver Level 2, 3 and 4 Housing Apprenticeships as a Main Provider as part of the new Apprenticeship Standards. 

Being a Main Provider means that, YMCA Birmingham are able to deliver apprenticeship training to employers that will use the apprenticeship service to pay for apprenticeship training; deliver apprenticeship training to their own apprentices, or apprentices of their connected companies’, if they use the apprenticeship service to pay for the training; and deliver apprenticeship training as a subcontractor.

The Apprenticeships, which are assessed by the Chartered Institute of Housing, focus on learning in the workplace and offer a tailored approach to developing job specific skills within the housing sector.

“Due to our close working relationship with the housing sector, we have been talking to a number of organisations over the last 18 months about the Levy and what it means, and how they can make it work for them.” Richard continued.

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“We are finding that several training providers, who are now on the register, are bombarding organisations about the levy and how they are going to spend it. We are positioned as a Main Provider, but also as a trusted delivery partner for qualifications and training, and more importantly, as an organisation that sits in the same sector and feels the same pressures.

“This puts us in a unique position as we actually understand the sector and can make the apprenticeships work for the organisations that we work with. Organisations are happy for us to take the burden off them.”

YMCA Birmingham is a registered housing provider and has a portfolio of properties that include both supported and general needs housing. This ensures that the charity has an extremely close connection to the housing sector, with additional expertise at hand from those that are responsible for day-to-day delivery of housing services and those that work at a more strategic level.

After five years of delivering housing qualifications, the charity has regular contact with all its learners and apprentices to make sure any issues are addressed at the earliest opportunity through formal and informal contact, periodic surveys and ongoing monitoring. By utilising this monitoring it ensures that the apprentices are ready for the End Point Assessment and ultimately achieve success in their apprenticeship.

YMCA Birmingham is currently delivering Housing Apprenticeships in the West Midlands and Lincolnshire, offering CIH Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Homeless People, CIH Level 3 Certificate in Housing Services; CIH Level 3 Certificate in Housing Practice; CIH Level 4 Certificate in Housing and CIH Level 5 Diploma in Housing. The charity is currently in negotiations with several organisations about their apprenticeship programmes and becoming a provider.

National statistics show that nearly half of apprenticeships across the board are started by people over 25, so whatever your age, with a great combination of on- and off-site learning and experience, guided by knowledgeable tutors and mentors, an apprenticeship could be the ideal way to find the job and successful career you are looking for.

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