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02 December 2016

Apprentices help build the future of housing for the next generation

Budding future stars of housing have been helping to create the narrative for the #nextchapter of Welsh Housing Associations, as part of Community Housing Cymru’s (CHC) Welsh Apprentice Challenge.

Fifteen apprentices from housing associations around Wales, went 'back to the future', when they joined together in teams of five, at CHC’s annual conference event on December 1-2, in the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.

During the conference, CHC’s Housing Horizons project was launched and this formed the basis for this year’s challenge. Apprentices were fast forward to 2036 and asked to think about what a housing association home will be like, who tenants will be, the types of people and skills that they will be working alongside in 2036, what impact a housing association will have on the community, and how a future HA leader would inspire and motivate them.

The apprentices were aided in their challenge, by six mentors from the Welsh housing sector, including three previous apprentice challengers from last year’s event, along with three former CIH Rising Stars. Apprentices from this year’s challenge came from various fields and included electricians, a plumber, a plasterer, a business administrator and a property administrator.

This year's teams were called Daffs and Drags, Warriors, and Team Dragon and the event was sponsored by The Prince's Trust.

Each team, delivered a ten-minute presentation to the conference, based on their virtual visit to a 2036 housing association including the scenario of meeting a new tenant and visiting a HA’s offices and meeting the Chief Executive.

To do this, during the course of two days they collated as much useful information, which would give them valuable insight into the sector. This included speaking to CHC conference delegates, working together with their teammates and mentors, usual social media and drawing on their own personal experiences and views.

After seeing all three presentation from the teams the CHC conference audience voted for their favourite – namely Team Dragon.

Speaking about her Welsh Apprentice Challenge Bron Afon Business Admin apprentice Ellie George said: “I felt honoured to be a part of the annual two-day conference and the Welsh Apprentice Challenge. I enjoyed meeting other apprentices throughout Wales and I felt inspired by the whole experience.”

Former apprentice challenger turned mentor Katie Howells said: “The Welsh Apprentice Challenge is a lovely touch to an inspiring conference and it’s a great way of giving apprentices the chance to attend a conference alongside senior colleagues where they wouldn’t normally. It’s a great way to network and a good learning opportunity. Since completing the challenge last year I have gained a full time permanent job with Merthyr Valleys Homes as their Executive Support Officer and I’m sure a lot of the apprentices who took part this year will be in the same position in 2017.”

Chief Executive of CHC Stuart Ropke said: “Housing Horizons is such an important project that will help inform our planning and strategy to ensure we meet the future housing needs of the people in Wales in 2036. The ideas and opinions of teams from this year’s Welsh Apprentice Challenge are invaluable to the project, as these apprentices could go onto be leaders of the future and shape the next chapter for Welsh Housing Associations.”

Ellie George was one of the 15 apprentices who took part in the Welsh Apprentice Challenge 2016. Katie Howells who took in 2015 was invited back this year to be one of the six mentors. This is what they thought of the experience. Read Ellie’s blog here and Katie’s here.