Minister backs Plus Dane focus on apprenticeships


The Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships has encouraged more employers to follow in the footsteps of a North West Housing Association during National Apprenticeship Week (5th - 9th March).

Plus Dane Housing, a housing association that provides over 13,500 homes across Merseyside and Cheshire, currently has 21 apprentices and seven graduates on its books, which equates to over 5% of its total staff, and is a proud member of the 5% Club.

The RT Hon Anne Milton believes that the approach taken by Plus Dane Housing to providing accessible job opportunities is one that other organisations should strive to replicate in order to grow a skilled workforce for the future.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said: “National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity for employers and apprentices to tell their stories about how an apprenticeship worked for them. Whatever your age or background an apprenticeship offers a huge range of choices so you can get the job that you want to enable you to get on in life. Apprenticeships mean people can earn while they learn, and businesses get people with the skills they need so their business can thrive and grow. The government’s apprenticeship reforms are all about making sure we have quality apprenticeships and lots more of them because that’s the way we grow the skilled workforce the country needs.” 

Barbara Spicer CBE, chief executive at Plus Dane Housing, said: “Our commitment to apprenticeships is something we are really proud of as a business, and we are delighted to support National Apprenticeship Week again this year. We have recruited so many remarkable people through our apprenticeship schemes who have already made a massive contribution to the organisation and genuinely have the potential to be our future leaders. We urge other organisations to place greater importance on closing the economic skills gap through these routes.”

David Hill began his apprenticeship at Plus Dane in April 2013, working as part of the Rent and Services team. His main responsibilities were to carry out the rent accounting function, although he was also able to get involved in the preparation of the service charge budgets. After two years he had completed a CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting and successfully applied for a role as a Finance Officer at Plus Dane. Over the next few years he continued to build up his knowledge, first gained during his apprenticeship, and this year he successfully applied for the position of Trainee Business Accountant.

David said: “When I attended the interview for a Finance Apprenticeship with Plus Dane back in 2013 the last question I was asked was; “where do you see yourself in 5 years time?” I answered that I wanted to be in a position to work towards becoming a fully qualified accountant and, with my apprenticeship setting the foundations, this is where I am today. Being able to apply knowledge from my studies to my day to day work straight away meant I could pick up tasks quickly, and look ahead for new challenges and experience.”

“Balancing a full time job with study could seem a bit daunting at times, but this helped build my organisational and other transferable skills which have benefited me later in my career. The apprenticeship was a great experience for me, and with the help and support of the fantastic team around me it got my career in finance off to a flying start.”