Housing group lays jobs foundations

Aaron Smurthwaite, an apprentice with The Vela Group, gives an IT lesson to Laurel Gardens resident Ralph Stonehouse
Aaron Smurthwaite, an apprentice with The Vela Group, gives an IT lesson to Laurel Gardens resident Ralph Stonehouse

A HOUSING group is hoping to build careers by signing up to an apprenticeship scheme.

The Vela Group is backing the National Housing Federation’s North East Apprenticeship Commitment to celebrate Apprenticeship Week.

The organisation, which includes Housing Hartlepool and Tristar Homes, has pledged to give job opportunities to apprentices whenever possible.

The National Housing Federation scheme was launched due to the region having the highest unemployment figures in the country and nearly one in four young people out of work.

Cath Purdy, Vela Group’s chief executive, said: “Housing associations are about much more than just bricks and mortar. As well as providing an affordable roof over people’s heads, Vela is committed to playing an important role is improving the lives of residents.

“Helping people gain skills, which opens doors to fulfilling careers, is crucial to the economic wellbeing of an area. Apprenticeships are a great way to gain practical experience and study for industry-recognised qualifications while earning a wage.

“This agreement demonstrates the Vela Group’s commitment to helping shape a future generation of skilled workers.”

The Vela Group’s apprenticeship training lasts up to four years with the trainees gaining work-based practical experience while doing a college course in a related subject.

Vela has worked with Hartlepool College of Further Education, Springboard and Connect To Work to establish the roles.

Last September, 24 young apprentices started work with the Vela Group, increasing the overall number to 34 and covering everything from administration and information technology to bricklaying and plumbing.

As part of the week, Vela apprentices visited Laurel Gardens, a purpose built development in Hartlepool for the over-55s.

They organised entertainment including a game of bingo and a raffle, helped out in the hair salon, shop and bistro and put on computer lessons for residents.

Monica Burns, the National Housing Federation’s lead manager for the North-East, said: “I am delighted that the Vela Group is leading the way during Apprenticeship Week by committing to take on more apprentices.

“The apprenticeship culture is already well embedded in the North-East’s social housing sector and this new commitment demonstrates how the region is keen to continue setting the standard.”