From education to employment

Local partnership to futureproof skilled trades

Greg Lakin of Midland Heart and Claire Boliver, principle and chief executive at City of Wolverhampton College

One of the West Midland’s leading housing associations is partnering with City of Wolverhampton College to provide its existing workforce with the opportunity to learn additional skills to achieve the new Property Maintenance Operative Standard.

Funded through the apprenticeship levy, Midland Heart is supporting 21 of its experienced property management team, to go back to college to become fully-trained, multi-skilled tradespeople.

Taking one year to complete, attendees will undertake modules in carpentry, plumbing, electrics, painting and decorating, tiling and plastering.

One of the first housing organisations to invest in developing its skilled workforce by utilising the new apprenticeship standard, it follows three years of restructuring its property care team and sourcing the right course to deliver the right results.

“We are continually investing in our talent not only to enable us to provide a first-class service to our customers, but also because as one of the leading employers in the area we want to give talented people the opportunity to join a great place to work where they can develop and grow their careers with us,” says Craig Knapper, Resourcing Business Partner at Midland Heart.

This investment in talent follows Midland Heart’s decision to expand its Property Care Team earlier this year to increase its property management portfolio by an additional 17,000 properties across Birmingham, Walsall and Stoke-on-Trent.

“Working with City of Wolverhampton College we have been able to provide a structured path to achieve a vocational qualification, and build on the teams existing strengths and trade knowledge to enable a truly mulit-skilled workforce ,” says Greg Lakin Director of Property Care, at Midland Heart.

Employing 70 multi-skilled operatives, including six  apprentices, the expanded property care is expected to deliver savings of £5.2M over the next 10 years years.

To ensure it can meet its target, Midland Heart has worked with the college to ensure each employee has a tailored learning programme.

“In this instance, one route does not fit all so we have worked closely with the college to provide individual learning paths,” says Craig .

“For example, if you are already a fully-trained  carpenter instead of spending six weeks learning skills you already have, you can double up your time in other areas such as plastering or plumbing.  The course also includes Maths and English at a functional level, which will help those aspiring to further their careers once the course has completed.”

Although City of Wolverhampton College have delivered courses to achieve the Property Maintenance Operative Standard before, it is the first time it has worked with such a large cohort with specific requirements for each student.

“Education should be about providing the right path to gain the desired outcome and City of Wolverhampton College is delighted to be working with Midland Heart to deliver a course that suits both new apprentices and its skilled workforce,” says Joel Dalhouse, curriculum manager at City of Wolverhampton College.

“Both Midland Heart and the college are committed to ensuring everyone, no matter what their skill-set, receives the best experience to achieve the new standard.”

Midland Heart is amongst two per cent of employers who are contributing to the Apprenticeship Levy, which came into force in April 2017.

The Levy will see employers from all sectors contributing 0.5% of their annual pay bill to develop vocational skills and apprenticeships in their organisations.

About City of Wolverhampton College: Among the top 15% of colleges in England for success rates for 16-18 year olds, it is rated highest in the Midlands region and in the top 10% nationally for learner satisfaction, and was graded ‘Good’ by Ofsted in November 2014. It currently has around 10,000 students, as well as 1300 apprentices working for employers across the Black Country and beyond.

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