"This month was a landmark moment for Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group – eight years after establishing our programme, we celebrated helping our 1,000th apprentice into work.
Like many housing associations, we have helped residents into work for many years and our apprenticeship programme is a key part of this.
The catalyst was the Future Jobs Fund, which ran from 2009 to 2011 following the financial crash.
Through the fund, we helped more than 100 18-24 year olds with paid, six-month work placements. Nearly all went on to find permanent employment, more than half in our organisation.
Young people brought freshness and energy and we couldn’t let that just disappear when the funding ending in 2011.
So buoyed by our experience, we set up our apprenticeship programme that year.
This was initially focused internally, but we quickly recognised that we could support even more residents by offering opportunities with external employers as well.
We now collaborate with more than 50 employers to provide apprenticeships. Most of our apprentices work in the construction sector, which is natural given our links and the high demand for new recruits.
Since establishing the programme, we have worked hard to broaden its reach and appeal, providing opportunities in business administration, customer services, retail, health and leisure.
As a result, 35% of our apprentices are women, compared with an average of 11% in the construction sector.
We are also working with other housing providers to develop higher level apprenticeships, including a new level six apprenticeship in housing and property management.
Many of our apprentices have had to overcome very challenging circumstances, including one of the winners at our awards ceremony last week – 19 year old Sophie Kettle endured a tough childhood, but is flourishing as an apprentice with Engie and is already a trainee site manager.
We have established a mentoring programme to help our apprentices develop, with more than 50 staff volunteering their time.
Not only does this provide our apprentices with valuable support, it also enables staff from the wider business to understand the issues faced by our residents first hand.
Helping people into apprenticeships is just one strand of our employment programme and the wider remit of Clarion Futures.
We have significantly expanded our employment support services and as the lead partner of Love London Working, the largest project in this country supported by the European Social Fund, we have already helped 4,000 people into work, 75% of whom are BAME Londoners.
Apprenticeships work for employees and they work for employers. They are a huge help to young people, but they work for everyone – our oldest apprentice is 64.
I’m proud of the fact my son is an apprentice and a happier and more fulfilled 19 year old it would be hard to find."
Phil Miles, director, Clarion Futures