Apprenticeship gives Kerrie a step onto housing career ladder

When 15-year-old Kerrie Hurse from Bristol took her GCSEs in 2003 she had no idea that her life would eventually take her into a career in housing.

“After completing my GCSEs, I worked as a nursery nurse for a few years, then joined my family’s newsagent business,” says Kerrie. “When the shop closed, I was 25 years old and I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Apprenticeship in housing

Kerrie discovered the apprenticeship scheme run by leading social housing provider Stonewater (then Raglan Housing) through a family friend who worked there. She applied and was accepted onto a one-year Intermediate Housing Apprenticeship programme run through the Centre for Housing and Support (CHS) in partnership with Cornwall College and Stonewater. Kerrie trained four days a week with Stonewater, working across different departments, and spent one day at home working on her coursework. She also received monthly visits from her college tutor at Stonewater’s Bristol office to check her progression.

“I liked the idea of being able to gain industry experience working at Stonewater while being paid to study for my NVQ Level 2 in Housing Practice,” explains Kerrie.

Kerrie extended her apprenticeship by another year, moving onto the Level 3 Advanced Housing Apprenticeship where she gained an Advanced Technical Certificate (CIH) in Housing Practice.

Job offer

During this time she was employed as a full-time development assistant, supporting Stonewater’s Bristol housing development team. Half of her week was dedicated to the housing

department and the other half to the development department. Stonewater also gave Kerrie a half day a week to complete her college studies.

“During my Level 2 I worked within the development team, shadowing colleagues at site meetings, end of defects inspections, PR events and local authority meetings where I met a lot of stakeholders and residents,” Kerrie explains. “My Level 3 was focused on housing management so I shadowed at court, sign ups and six week visits and completed a week’s work experience with North Somerset. I also spent time in the office scanning documents from handovers and site meeting minutes. This familiarised me with the documents we often use and receive.”

Kerrie was mainly supported by Stonewater’s Learning and Development department:

“Our department aims to inspire, motivate and develop the skills and careers of our colleagues,” says Ian Girdler, Learning and Development Manager of Stonewater. “We keep a close eye on our new colleagues while they study for their apprenticeships and offer them aid and advice where possible. It is a genuine pleasure to help colleagues like Kerrie take control of their careers, and gratifying to watch them later prosper within the company.”

Transferrable skills and a great career with Stonewater

Now aged 28, Kerrie plans to continue building her career with Stonewater and developing the knowledge and confidence inspired by her apprenticeship. “I was lucky to have the opportunity to continue working for Stonewater. My apprenticeship taught me how the development team and company works, which was then easy to apply to my full-time job,” she says. “Stonewater constantly offers me training opportunities to develop my skills. I really enjoy my new role as a development assistant but I am now confident enough that I could transfer these skills to a job in any organisation.”

Prior to her apprenticeship, Kerrie had no knowledge of housing: “Through Stonewater’s continued support, I have learned a lot about the industry which I will be able to apply throughout my career,” she says.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to get your foot on the career ladder by getting paid to learn a skill and gain qualifications,” Kerrie adds. “They give you an edge in an interview situation, because your employer knows you and your capabilities and is more likely to hire someone who can already do the job, is part of the team and who understands the business. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone at any age!”