Offering practical learning and hands-on experience, apprenticeships can be a great route into the housing and construction professions. First Choice Homes Oldham understands the importance of supporting the next generation of apprentices and shares some of its success stories.
First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) is a housing association formed to benefit local communities — in their Oldham heartland and beyond — and owns and manages around 11,500 homes. With around 10% of the local population living in an FCHO home, they are proud to be an anchor organisation through their significant contribution as a large local business and employer.
For National Apprenticeship Week, Craig, Tasnim, Huma, Sara, Tanisha and Mike share their positive experiences of being FCHO apprentices:
Craig joined First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) in 2023 as a Neighbourhood Care (Grounds) Apprentice. At 40-years-old, embarking on an apprenticeship is no easy feat, but Craig has smashed any myths and misconceptions about apprenticeships and is making great progress towards achieving a Level 2 apprenticeship in Horticulture.
Craig said: “I’ve worked in factories since leaving school and was getting rather restless. I needed a career change and I wanted to do something I enjoy. I’ve always loved being outside whether this is going fishing with my family or just cutting my lawn at home, so when an apprenticeship at FCHO came up in Grounds Maintenance — I thought, why not?
“Not only do I enjoy it, but I’m also gaining a qualification which will create better prospects for me and my family. Never did I think I’d be working towards an apprenticeship at 40 years old but I’m proud of myself for putting myself out there and going for it. I’m loving the skills I’m learning, the training I’m receiving and the fantastic environment I’m working in.
“My advice is this — you’re never too old and it’s not too late. If you want something — go for it! You never know unless you try.”
Tasnim (Tas) Begum
Tasnim is FCHO’s newest apprentice, joining the organisation five weeks ago in the role of Apprentice Neighbourhood Co-ordinator. Tas, 24-years-old, already has a Level 3 in Business Admin and she’s now undertaking a Level 2 in Housing and Property Management.
Tas said: “I quickly learned that a traditional desk job wasn’t the right fit for me, so when I saw an Apprentice Neighbourhood Co-ordinator position come up with FCHO — it seemed perfect.
“I have no previous experience in housing, but this apprenticeship will allow me to learn the necessary skills and experience to pursue a full-time career in the industry.
“If you’re like me and struggle to learn by reading books or listening to lectures, I would totally recommend an apprenticeship. Practical learning, getting hands-on experience and earning a living at the same time is ideal, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Huma Khalid, Sara Lightfoot and Tanisha Rigby
Huma, Sara and Tanisha have collectively worked at FCHO for more than 36 years. Working in very different roles; they have one commonality — they are all working towards a CIH Level 4 apprenticeship in Housing Management.
Land and Acquisitions Officer Sara has just received a distinction following her end-point assessment. Huma, one of FCHO’s Income Collection Officers, will receive her grade any day. Tanisha, Customer Involvement Officer, will receive hers over the coming weeks.
Sara said: “I chose to do an apprenticeship as I’ve always enjoyed learning. This course has allowed me to develop my knowledge and skills across a range of areas. It was challenging but has built up my resilience and gave me the confidence to apply for my current role in the Development team — something which I previously hadn’t felt confident enough to do.”
Huma said: “I am a keen learner so was delighted to be able to embark on this apprenticeship and receive a formal qualification. Doing an apprenticeship while working full time hasn’t been easy, but the insight I’ve gained into housing as a profession, combined with the skills to provide strategic context to my work, has been invaluable. I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunities my newly acquired qualification brings!”
Tanisha said: “Wow, has this apprenticeship challenged me? Definitely. Not just operationally but with things like project management, time management and adaptability. If you’re considering an apprenticeship — go for it! Embrace the challenge, take advantage of all the learning opportunities, stay proactive and most importantly — enjoy it! The confidence it will give you — not to mention the skills and knowledge gained — is so worth it.”
Plumber Mike helps next generation of apprentices
Making sure apprentices at First Choice Homes Oldham get the support they need to flourish is something the housing organisation is hugely passionate about. So much so, a Multiskilled Plumber at FCHO, Mike Findlow, (on the right), has been leading revision sessions to support FCHO’s Property Care plumbing apprentices and help them brush up on their knowledge before their looming April exams.
The revision sessions are really valued by the apprentices who are all super keen to learn and develop their skills. Mike has gone out of his way to organise the sessions in his spare time, demonstrating his personal commitment to supporting the next generation of apprentices, and growing local talent.
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