Our latest apprentice recruits will officially start their new roles on the first day of National Apprentice Week, in a range of roles including marketing, construction and gardening.

Jamie and Bethany

One of the new gardening recruits, Jamie Learmouth, is already pretty familiar with the organisation as his girlfriend, Bethany Marr, has been doing a gardening apprenticeship with YHN and it’s “all she talks about”.

Nineteen-year-old Bethany’s work has included grass cutting, hedge cutting, cutting back shrubs, litter picking, shovelling leaves, and many other tasks designed to improve the areas around the homes we manage on behalf of Newcastle City Council. She has achieved her Horticulture NVQ Level 2 through Westgate College.

    Bethany said: “I saw an advert for the YHN apprenticeships on my Facebook page and decided to apply. I have a young son and had been caring for him since leaving school, which meant I was claiming Universal Credit and I didn’t want to continue doing that – I wanted to work for my money and provide a better life for me and him.

“I was already doing my mam’s garden for her, as well as my nana’s, and I really enjoyed that sort of activity, but I had no idea YHN had those sorts of roles until I was offered one – I thought they just collected rent money and did repairs, but now I work here I know there’s so much more to it!”

Despite having never had an interview before, Bethany found our recruitment process very informal and impressed the organisation’s employability team, which works on a range of programmes designed to help our customers into paid work.

She said: “I wasn’t expecting the interview when it happened, but it was really casual, so didn’t make me anxious. Since then, I’ve had loads of support with my CV and attended YHN’s job club; it’s all very welcoming.”

We’ve offered Bethany additional support in recognition of the essential criteria included in most gardening job adverts that she’s interested in, to help her pursue this career path when she leaves. Bethany now has her PA1 and PA6 spraying and pesticide qualification and we’ve also paid for ten driving lessons and her theory and practical tests.

She continued: “It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m so glad they’ve helped me. Learning to drive is so expensive and it would have taken me far longer to do it on my own. I found the first lesson really easy and my instructor couldn’t believe I’d never driven before, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to pass quite soon.

“Having my licence will open up even more opportunities for me and that’s great news for my son. I thought it would be hard to leave him but he’s at nursery during the day and I finish my shift in time to pick him up, which is lovely. We’re both in a good routine and he knows I go to work for ‘pennies’ – I think he looks forward to me getting paid more than I do because I always treat him to something!

“I’d love to continue working for YHN and hopefully I’ll manage that someday. In the meantime, I have an interview for another apprenticeship, this time doing grounds maintenance for Newcastle City Council, which will hopefully give me even more useful skills, so I can apply for gardening jobs in future.

“I’m really pleased that Jamie is starting work at YHN, he already knows loads about what to do because I tell him all the time and I think he’ll really enjoy it. I’ve also told my brothers they should look into it – I basically tell everyone to get themselves in because there’s so much to learn.”

Our apprenticeship programme has ran successfully for over seven years, with 90% of those who complete their apprenticeship progressing to paid work or further training.

Our dedicated employability team supports apprentices continually, in recognition of the fact that many have little to no previous work experience. This includes help with applications, CV writing, job searches and mock interviews, as well as individually tailored support for those with particular needs.

  Matthew Foreman, YHN’s customer service director, said: “Our apprentices are fully supported by a mentor and given on the job training so that their transition into work is as smooth as possible. They also have opportunities to get involved in other projects not associated with their role, which helps to broaden their experience.

“For example, they can take part in the Newcastle Eagles enterprise challenge, where they’re split into two teams who compete against each other to sell the most merchandise at one of the club’s basketball games, with profits then being donated to a charity of their choice.

“YHN’s employability team also offers support to YHN customers of any age who have are looking for work, again support is provided to those who may have been out of work for a while and this is not a barrier to employment with us through our employability programmes.

“I’d encourage any of our customers who are looking for work to contact us so they can find out more about the extensive support we offer.”

More information about all of the support YHN can offer its customers in relation to job seeking is available here and about apprenticeships specifically here.