Thirteen, one of the biggest housing providers in the North East, is investing in its staff through an innovative programme which will help its workforce to provide better services for customers.

Thirteen has developed two new in-house apprenticeships in Housing and Property Management. Twenty staff have started the apprenticeship programmes which have been developed and run by housing professionals, for housing professionals.

The level two apprenticeship programme is designed for learners in a support and administrative role, while the level three is aimed at existing customer-facing staff who manage a portfolio of properties. Both programmes will allow staff to increase their knowledge and skills to a more in-depth level which will support customers to have successful tenancies with Thirteen.

On 19 September, the first group of learners began their apprenticeships in Housing and Property Management with their initial classroom session.

Thirteen has employed a specialist apprenticeship tutor, Tracy Jones, to run the new courses which are designed to support existing frontline staff and ensure they can develop the skills they need for their work in the future.

Tracy will be delivering the apprenticeships through classroom and workplace sessions, teaching modules that cover all aspects of housing, as well as supporting apprentices to complete a portfolio of evidence and a project to demonstrate competence in their jobs.

Tracy said: “Apprenticeships are changing and are no longer just a great entry route for young people starting their first job. Apprenticeships now also play an important role in upskilling the existing workforce to address skills shortages and increasing productivity across the nation.

“Thirteen’s level three apprenticeship is a 24-month course while the level two lasts for 18 months. Both courses involve weekly day release for dedicated teaching at the Phoenix Centre in Hartlepool.”

Initially, Thirteen Training will deliver the in-house courses to help staff increase their skills and knowledge. The courses will eventually lead to qualifications and certified membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Kay Glew, Director of Neighbourhood Services at Thirteen, said: “When we first discussed the development of these apprenticeship programmes, we reviewed the options available with other providers and quickly realised that we needed to develop our own courses to help us meet our own very specific needs.

“These apprenticeship programmes will put us ahead of the game when it comes to delivering excellent services for customers as they will help our staff to develop more robust skills to help customers develop and sustain successful tenancies.

“We have recently changed the way that we deliver many of our services for our tenants and customers to make sure they are at the centre of everything we do, and these programmes will help us to do that now and in the long-term.”

The introduction of the new apprenticeship programmes follows a range of reforms that has seen the government encouraging apprenticeships for all ages to upskill existing staff and encourage new staff into organisations.

The programmes will allow staff to develop and demonstrate their knowledge, skills and behaviours that their job requires, and to be assessed as competent in their field. Apprenticeship programmes also allow current staff to gain a qualification while continuing with their day jobs.