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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

The apprenticeship levy: one year on


We spoke to our head of professional standards Vanessa Howell to find out more about the progress the sector has made since the changes to housing apprenticeships were introduced.

A key landmark was reached for the new housing apprenticeship standards recently when, almost a year after the new levy was introduced, the first group of individuals completed their apprenticeships. CIH played a crucial role; providing the new assessment required at the end of the programme.

We spoke to our head of professional standards, Vanessa Howell, to find out more.

Almost a year on from the introduction of the levy what progress has there been in the sector?

I think there has been significant progress. We’ve seen the first group of individuals complete their training and assessment which is great and we know that plenty of providers are proactively drawing down their levy and engaging with the new standards in a really positive way.

But I think it’s fair to say that there is still a long way to go. It feels like there is still a lack of awareness and understanding of the implications of the changes and their potential to make a big, big difference to how we equip the next generation of housing professionals.

We know, for example, that there are quite a few organisations that are now subjected to hefty levy payments but do not have plans in place as to how they draw it down. Some have very good reasons for this and for others it is part of a longer-term plan, but for others it is simply because they don’t know enough and that’s not insignificant when you consider if the levy isn’t used within 18 months you lose it.

How many organisations have we worked with in the first year of the new standards?

We average a few enquiries a week so it is important to note that there is a lot of interest and intention.

At CIH our Housing Academy is a registered training provider and CIH is also a registered end-point assessor. So that means we can work with organisations on training, assessment or both. It’s really important to note though that these services are provided completely separately as required – but it does give people a sense of continuity and confidence if they know that they are dealing with the same organisation.

Tell us more about the first lot of apprentices to have completed a programme under the new standards and what was CIH’s role?

This is an important landmark for the new housing apprenticeships and we’re really pleased to have been involved.

The apprentices were from Stockport Homes and Hyndburn Homes and the training provider was Sysco Business Skills Academy.

As a government-approved assessment organisation we were chosen to complete this crucial stage of the programme.

Whereas under the previous framework an apprentice worked towards a qualification, the new standards require them to complete a bespoke package of training which leads them to a specific job role.

At the end of their programme the apprentice is assessed by a panel made up by the employer, the training provider and an independent housing professional. This assessment element is the bit that we provided on this occasion.

As the standards were new to the employer, to Sysco and to us we were all learning on this one and this was a really important and valuable process to go through. We all worked together really well on what I think establishes a great model for how to utilise the new standards.

Do you think the new standards are achieving what they were supposed to?

Progress has been made but I do think that we are a long way from reaching the potential that the new standards have to help us equip people in housing with the skills they require.

It is true that the new standards require a greater level of buy in from employers and in many ways more thought is needed about building a training programme and putting end-point assessment in place.

But this is also a huge chance to equip our people with the knowledge and skills they need to perform very specific job roles. It’s a clear move away from the much more general housing apprenticeships of the past which I think is really important. At this crucial time, when the spotlight is firmly on the need to make sure we have people with focused skills, it is so important that we take that chance. And when you consider the long-running issues we have in housing with succession planning the imperative to make the most of these changes becomes even more clear.

So what’s your message to organisations who still don’t feel they have got to grips with the changes?

Quite simply this - we are here to help.

Yes we are a provider, but we are also the professional body and our abiding agenda is that we want the sector to be equipped to make the most of the new housing apprenticeships.

So if you want to appoint a training provider or assessor, we can help with that, but if you just want information and advice we are absolutely here to provide that too.

  • What to know more about apprenticeships? Click here

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