A GROUP of apprentices are hoping to lay the foundation for a career in the housing industry.
Social housing provider Bernicia saw in the new year with an apprenticeship programme.
More than 370 applications were received for roles in business and administration and customer services within the customer contact centre, as well as traditional trades like electrical, plumbing, joinery and bricklaying within the property and estate services team.
Nine successful applicants have been taken on, completing their NVQ training with Northumberland College.
Among the new starters is Katie Hall, 18, who has just moved into a Bernicia flat in Ashington, and has taken on a role in customer services.
She said: “When I found out I’d been chosen for the apprenticeship I was really grateful to be given such a great opportunity.
“I couldn’t believe that out of all the candidates that applied, I’d been successful.
“I’m really looking forward to learning some new skills, progressing and gaining more knowledge about the job and the housing industry.
“Bernicia has big plans for the next few years so it will be great to be part of this and see how the company progresses in the future.”
The line-up is completed by Shane Bryson and Michael Corness, both 18; Lucy Dungey and David McClenn, 19; Ryan Clarke and Joe Gadsby, 20; Ryan Irving-Carr, 21, and Emma Spratt, 33.
All the new recruits are working towards an NVQ Level 2 qualification in their chosen discipline.
Debra Beattie, head of organisational development for Bernicia, said: “Bernicia’s vision is ‘making the difference’ and over the coming years we will continue doing just that, improving the lives of local people and neighbourhoods.
“The new headquarters and this business apprenticeship scheme are just two examples of how we are honouring this commitment.
“We were delighted to see so many people apply for the programme and it is fantastic that we’ve been able to help a selection on their way towards building a career in the housing sector.
“This will make a real difference to their lives, not to mention all the Bernicia residents who will benefit from the services we provide.”
The apprenticeship programme coincides with the company’s relocation to a purpose built 40,000sq ft office and depot on the Ashwood Business Park, Ashington; plans for 230 new homes in south east Northumberland and a further £35m investment in improvements to existing homes.