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Feb 20

Becoming an employer of choice

Posted: 3 February 2020

Jenny-250-x-250pxHousing 21, a levy-paying employer, is a nationwide housing and care provider for older people of modest means, and employs over 3,500 staff. They’ve traditionally used apprentices in their corporate department to assist with central office roles, but have plans to recruit an Adult Care Worker (level 2) apprentice in 2020 and will be actively going in to schools to promote this.

We spoke to Jenny Docherty, Learning and Development Partner at Housing 21, who told us how they’re committed to upskilling their workforce. They currently have 180 of their staff working towards an apprenticeship and they plan to offer more diverse opportunities over the coming year.

Why did you choose to use apprenticeships in your organisation?

We’ve always been committed to offering our staff development opportunities and we were using apprenticeships before the introduction of the levy. We see them as a flexible learning opportunity for an individual to develop their knowledge and skills, enabling them to move into other roles.

How does having apprentices contribute to your organisational goals?

One of our key organisational focuses is ‘our people and potential’. This is a message we not only want to promote, but to put into practice. We’re proud to have achieved the Investors in People Gold Standard accreditation in June 2018, and we want to be an employer of choice, attracting and retaining great people who are motivated to deliver and supported to perform at their best. We help our people to develop their skills and knowledge through high quality, accredited training opportunities, and apprenticeships are a major part of this.

What impact have the apprenticeships had on your staff?

The apprentices have such great enthusiasm and work ethic and it’s great to hear from managers about the value they have brought to our organisation. I’ve had feedback from managers such as ‘they’re becoming a real asset to the team’ about apprentices who have only been in their roles since September 2019.

What has worked well for you?

It’s been great being able to offer our existing staff opportunities to develop and hearing what a difference apprenticeship’s have made to them, not just professionally, but personally as well. I am involved in the whole process from start to finish, which is important, and have created some specific resources for our new apprentices to ensure they feel supported.

Have there been any challenges?

Our biggest challenge was understanding logistically how it would work putting staff through learning whilst working and catering for the 20% off-the-job time. I also did at least six months of my own research which included attending webinars, meetings and talking to others in the sector to find the right learning provider and understand the levy funding.

What advice would you give to other employers who may be thinking about apprenticeships?

I would highly recommend apprenticeships. My advice would be consider your workforce needs and understand the apprenticeships available.


Housing 21 is an example of how highly motivated staff deliver a high quality of care. To learn more about how apprenticeships can create positive care outcomes within your service see our apprenticeship section. You can also visit our National Apprenticeship Week 2020 page to hear more inspiring stories.