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Comments and opinions6 February 2024

How we are helping people achieve their aspirations with an apprenticeship

Alex Dean, Apprenticeship Development Manager at Clarion Futures, talks about the rich value of apprenticeships and how we are providing opportunities to those living in our communities.
Two young apprentices

“We are proud to champion this pathway to help our residents achieve their career goals, feel fulfilled, and flourish.”

Alex Dean, Apprenticeship Development Manager at Clarion Futures

By Alex Dean, Apprenticeship Development Manager at Clarion Futures

At Clarion, we are enormously proud of our apprenticeship programme; recognising its value in offering people a route into a rewarding career and maximising their potential, while developing talent and skills primed for the future.

We collaborate with over 50 employers spanning across more than 100 professions, from beauty and retail to construction and digital.

Part of my role at Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, is helping and supporting new candidates to join Clarion on an apprenticeship. I have been working in this position for around five years and I love it. I feel really privileged to do this role, mainly because of the positive impact we can have on individual lives.

Committed to providing rewarding opportunities

Much of our work is about engaging with residents in our communities and encouraging them to consider an apprenticeship as a pathway. We truly value the need to have a diverse, varied group of individuals working for our organisation, and we currently have more than 100 apprentices. When we recruit for a new apprenticeship position, we actively encourage a broad selection of customers and residents to apply, because we know that this will give us a rounded, balanced, and successful workforce with a wide pool of skills we need to be an effective business.

The entry route into an apprenticeship at Clarion is through FastTrack, our pre-employment programme. This short course includes application guidance, the confidence to perform well in an interview, and a work placement, offering an invaluable insight into the culture of the business, a taste of what it is like to work at Clarion. This also allows the individual to make that key decision - is an apprenticeship right for me?

We are also an accredited mentoring provider and ensure that once successfully in-post, all our apprentices are matched up with a dedicated mentor that supports them throughout their apprenticeship. Our mentoring programme, coupled with bespoke behavioural assessments, in-depth quarterly reviews, and regular apprenticeship networking events, help to foster a supportive and progressive working environment for our apprentices.

Our apprenticeship retention and completion rate is currently at 92%, which massively bucks the national average, and it is recognised that we are in that position because of the investment we have made in our apprenticeship programme.

Apprenticeships are not easy, presenting hard work and challenges for both the individual and the business. They require many additional touch points, including specific line-manager training, robust onboarding programmes, progression opportunities and total group buy-in to achieve good results. For me, by definition, an apprentice is not oven-ready and is why they are on an apprenticeship, so it is up to the business to recruit, train, and support those individuals.

How apprenticeships are evolving post-pandemic

I believe we need to be agile enough to adapt our programmes according to the needs of the modern workplace. More recently, we have noticed changing needs around how to support and continue to deliver an effective apprenticeship programme, now that many of our staff are working remotely and from home post-pandemic.

Certainly, for many departments, gone are the days of having an apprentice sat next to you in an office every day, so we are responding accordingly to ensure every apprentice is still exposed to all aspects of working life to ensure they receive an enriching experience.

Since establishing the programme in 2011, we have supported well over 1,000 apprentices, trained hundreds of mentors, and observed scores of success stories and individual journeys. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure everybody has access to a high-quality apprenticeship, and we are proud to champion this pathway to help our residents achieve their career goals, feel fulfilled, and flourish.

Exploring further

If you are a resident and would like further information about apprenticeships and how we can support you, visit our dedicated page.

Apprenticeships at Clarion

The Apprenticeship team are always keen to talk with employers and organisations who may wish to work with Clarion on apprenticeship delivery and support for individuals.