Apprentices building a better future through First Choice Homes Oldham partners

Date published: 06 November 2020


Nine apprentices kick-started their careers in construction and engineering in 2019/20, thanks to First Choice Homes Oldham’s (FCHO) partners.

North West-based contractors which are delivering work for Oldham-based social landlord, FCHO, took on the trainees, enabling them to gain valuable skills and get a head start in their future professions.

Joinery, bricklaying, plumbing and gas engineering are among the trades they have been getting on-the-job experience in and learning while they earn.

Heidi Thompson, Executive Director of Homes and Investment at FCHO, said: “We’re Oldham’s biggest social housing provider and we’ve got plans to invest £160m and build 850 new homes over the next six years.

"Through our work we want to create training opportunities and improve employment prospects for local people – especially as Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on our economy and jobs market.

"We’re continually looking for ways to add social value to the communities in which we work and it’s great to partner with contractors who share this vision.”

Sure Maintenance, which carries out essential gas maintenance services in FCHO customers’ homes, has offered training to three people, including Aaron Da Silva.

Proving that these opportunities aren’t just for school leavers, Aaron, who is 36 and from Failsworth, is in the final year of his three year Gas Engineering apprenticeship.

He said: “I left school at 16 and joined the forces for 15 years.

"When I left I wanted to re-train to get new skills to improve my job prospects and an apprenticeship was right for me.

“I’m employed by Sure, working four days a week for the company and studying for one day at the Trafford GM SkillCentre.

"Throughout my apprenticeship I’ve been part of Sure’s gas installation team and I’ve been lucky enough to work with one of our most experienced engineers, learning from him and getting hands on practise I wouldn’t have otherwise gained.

"Committing to the three-year apprenticeship was daunting, but I don’t think I’d have got as much out of any other training.”

James Mallard, Contract Manager with Sure Maintenance was an apprentice himself nearly 20 years ago.

He learned his trade with a gas maintenance contractor working for Oldham Council’s housing department, so his links with housing and First Choice Homes Oldham have come full circle.

He said: “Our apprentices come from all walks of life and are very important to us - they help us to grow our own talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified local team.

"Many of us started as trainees like Aaron and have worked our way up.

"Sure is all about bringing apprentices through, helping them to get qualified and offering jobs at the end to give them a solid start to their careers.”

Heidi added: “We want to help to develop the next generation of housing, construction and engineering professionals and I wish Aaron and all the apprentices the best of luck in their careers.”


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