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19 November 2014

Welsh housing associations leading the learning in Welsh communities

Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the membership body for housing associations in Wales, in collaboration with NIACE Cymru and WEA Cymru, are today holding an event to explore and build on the work carried out by the housing association sector in Wales in providing tenants with valuable skills, learning, apprenticeship and other employment opportunities in their local areas.

A recent ‘Leading the Learning’ survey, which was completed by thirty seven percent of CHC members, found that these housing associations provided 1,806 employment, skills and learning opportunities in 2013/14, averaging at 129 opportunities per association.

Sioned Hughes, CHC’s Director of Policy and Regeneration said: “We are a sector that can deliver and far exceed the role of landlord. The sector is a key lever for employment. Our members are offering varied opportunities around the employment, skills and learning agenda such as basic skills training, apprenticeships, vocational training and work placements – making a real difference to people right across Wales.”

Investment varied from association to association, but the average spend on Employment and Skills related activity in 2013/14 was £60,000.

The survey also revealed that 80 percent of housing associations have provided assistance to people and organisations who want to become self-employed or start up a social enterprise.

CHC has also set up the Building Enterprise project, funded by the Wales European Funding Office, to connect housing associations and social enterprises to lock the Welsh pound into Welsh communities.

The sector is also committed to supporting Welsh Government’s ‘Building Resilient Communities’, which aims to reduce the number of young people aged between 16-18 and 19-24 who are NEETs (Not In Education, Employment or Training) by 2017.

Over half of respondents (52 per cent) stated the age breakdown for opportunities provided. Of those, 20 per cent were offered to young people aged 16-18 and 43 per cent to people aged 19-24.

Speaking about the joint event at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay, Sioned added: “We are committed to getting more people back into work and addressing low skills levels. Today is about building on what we have already achieved and forging strong partnerships with NIACE Cymru and WEA Cymru to ensure that we are providing even more opportunities for our tenants.”

Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, who has responsibility for housing said:

“Housing Associations are, of course critical in providing safe, secure and affordable housing across Wales. However, they do far more than that. The scope of their work is huge, offering tenants and the wider community excellent opportunities for learning and developing new skills.

“I hope today’s event provides a useful opportunity for the two sectors to identify how they can continue to take full advantage of the strong links between them, helping to tackle poverty across Wales.”

Aaron Hill, Policy & Public Affairs Officer at NIACE Cymru, said: “The housing sector in Wales has a track record of successfully engaging some of the most excluded in society, offering new and exciting learning opportunities, often outside of traditional learning environments. It is important that we use today’s event to identify how the education and housing sectors might work together to improve opportunities for tenants and communities, in a way that maximises return on investment for all.”