L-R: Jessica O’Rourke – Housing Training Manager; Hannah Chambers – Apprentice; Christian Hartley – Customer Finance Manager; Jackie Grannell – Training Advisor; Veronica Coatham – CIH Independent Chair of the panel; Shirley Morris – CIH Validation Officer

North West based company, Sysco Business Skills Academy (Sysco), have become the first training provider in the country to complete the End-Point Assessment (EPA) for the new Housing Apprenticeship Standards with a cohort of Apprentices from Stockport Homes and Hyndburn Homes.

As the first End-Point Assessment to take place in England, the process has been a learning experience for both Sysco and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) who acted as both the awarding body and Independent Assessment Organisation. Our cohort performed exceptionally well with 75% of the cohort earning the highest grading available, distinction.

Dr Veronica Coatham – Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), said:

“Sysco worked with us on a pilot basis, helping us to overcome the challenge of setting up processes and procedures that not only reflect the standards but also the roles of employers and training providers in supporting apprentices. Sysco are the first training provider to submit an apprentice through the gateway for assessment with CIH and we are grateful to Sysco and Stockport Homes for working with us on setting up the first professional conversation – Sysco’s managers have been very helpful in supporting us and prepared the apprentice very well. It is good to see that the new apprenticeships are delivering what employers and the sector are looking for.”

In Britain there are over 5 million homes owned by Housing Associations and local councils. Affordable housing needs people to manage the services customers need so the Government has recently reformed Housing Apprenticeships with the aid of Housing Associations to enable housing professionals to provide these services. Issues such as the rise in homelessness and repossessions, Universal Credit, Government reductions in rent and housing shortages are having significant effects on the role of the Housing professional.

The completion of the first End-Point Assessment and the achievement of the first Housing Apprenticeship Standard by Stockport Homes and Hyndburn Homes Apprentices marks the point at which these new qualifications are being achieved by housing professionals and Housing Associations, addressing the new challenges originally identified by the trailblazer consultations.This achievement also marks the point at which the goals set out in the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan to ‘fix the foundations’ of apprenticeships are beginning to be achieved by Training Providers and Employers in the UK.

Hannah Chambers – Stockport Homes Group – Achieved distinction, said:

“Although I was nervous before the EPA, my trainer from Sysco was very supportive, and I was able to contact her for advice whenever I needed to. Initially I thought there would only be one person from the CIH at the EPA, however, as it was the first EPA they had performed they had some support. Everyone was lovely, and I felt relaxed in the knowledge that I had prepared well. The Standard included a lot of classroom-based learning and the topics we covered were helpful for the role I was doing day to day. Working within the Money Advice Team, it was very beneficial for me to have guidance on the huge changes taking place to Welfare Reform and Universal Credit in particular.”

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A spokesperson for Sysco, said:

“We have been managing the delivery of Housing Apprenticeships and qualifications for the last 7 years. The last year has been a real challenge due to the changes to both the housing sector and also the Apprenticeship Reforms and today is the culmination of a lot of hard work for the organisation. We are very proud of Hannah’s achievement in being the first to undertake the End-Point Assessment and are pleased that she received such positive feedback. A lot of development was involved in the creation of the standards and following the EPA we have received a lot of good feedback that will help us improve the qualifications in the future.”

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