Meet our apprentices

This week (6th to 10th March) is National Apprenticeships Week, so we’re celebrating our amazing apprentices and their achievements at SYHA.

Apprenticeships are a great way to gain valuable work place experience whilst working towards a qualification. University or college isn’t for everyone, and the best bit about an apprenticeship is that you’re earning as your learn!

We’ve currently got six apprentices working in areas across our business from IT and Customer Services, to our Home Maintenance Team and Property Services. Apprentices are an important part of our organisation. They bring new ideas, fresh ways of working and enthusiasm to our business.

To make their time with us as rewarding as it can be, they aren’t just making tea, they’re doing real work and gaining practical skills and experience.

Our apprentice programme has been a real success so far, with eight former apprentices now working at SYHA in new roles since finishing their apprenticeship.

We asked our apprentices how working with us has helped develop their career.

Jenni Anderson, Customer Connection Apprentice

Jenni started her apprenticeship with us back in August 2016. She found out about the role via a text we sent to all our tenants advertising the new role.

She was initially planning to get back to college but her mum suggested our Customer Connection Apprentice role for her and she applied – and we’re glad she did!

Jenni has been working with our Customer Service and Customer Engagement teams, and has done lots of work with our Customer Improvement Panel. We asked her how she has found the first six months of her apprenticeship:

“Aside from it really helping build my confidence, I’ve learnt a lot about working in an office environment, social housing and the issues currently facing lower income families in the UK. More practically speaking, I’ve had the opportunity to take an active role in helping plan events for tenants, filming and documenting these events, and getting to know and help tenants on an every day basis. It’s a really varied role, with no two days the same.

“One of my favourite parts so far would have to be helping with the Christmas Carol Concert held by some of the children in one of our neighbourhoods, where they performed for some of our resident groups. The people and the atmosphere are so lovely, and it’s wonderful being secure in the knowledge that we’re contributing to help people better their lives.”

Kane Kehoe, ICT Service Apprentice

Kane started his apprenticeship on 10th October 2016. He has lived in Sheffield his whole life and was studying video game development at Peaks College for a year before deciding it wasn’t for him. He then went from job to job, but none of them were really things he wanted to pursue a long term career in.

He had always been interested in IT and was looking for an apprenticeship to build his skills, gain some experience and get his foot in the door with a company. Sheffield City College forwarded his CV onto us and here he is!

We asked Kane how he is finding life at SYHA so far:

“I’ve only been here around five to six months but I’ve learned so much in my time here. Working in IT there’s a lot to learn every day, not only the technical side of my job but even just dealing with different types of people with different problems. My customer service skills have definitely improved since working here, from interacting with so many different people every day, over the phone and in person.

“If you’re thinking about an apprenticeship definitely go for it, you’ll not regret it. SYHA is a great place to work, the people are friendly, there’s always something that needs to be done, and new things to learn and experience. It’s a place where you can take pride in what you’re doing, no matter what it is.”

“The people I work with in Computer Services on a daily basis are all great people and always willing to lend a helping hand if I’m struggling with something, but also everyone else working here at SYHA, they’re all friendly welcoming people who make working here as enjoyable as it is.

SYHA is by far the best place I’ve worked so far, no day is the same and I’m learning so much all the time, it’s a great place to develop your skills and get some experience in whatever it is you’re interested in.”

Dan Morton, Systems Development Assistant

Dan started his apprenticeship with us back in August 2012 as a Database Systems Apprentice. He found out about the opportunity on the Government’s apprenticeship website, applied and five years later he is still with us!Dan Morton

He started working on database administration, learning new skills and applying the theory learnt whilst studying for a Level 3 Course in IT Uses for Business. After spending a year with us as an apprentice Dan was in the perfect position to apply for a new role that came up in our Computer Services team and got the job thanks to the experience he had built up over the previous year.

Dan’s development didn’t stop there, as part of his new roll he enrolled with University Centre Doncaster to complete a HNC in ‘Computing and Systems Development’. He would attend the course one day a week alongside his current role passing with flying colours once the two year course ended. Dan has already identified his next training goal. He aims to be certified as an Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in the near future.

We asked Dan what advice he would give to someone thinking about starting an apprenticeship with us:

“Go for it! You’ll be working in a friendly and challenging atmosphere with a pay rate that is very competitive with other apprentice roles. There are always development opportunities to go for and you will be constantly learning new things from people from a variety of backgrounds. I have found having the mix of studying and practical experience to work great for me as it has enabled me to put in to practice the work I have completed at college and university.”

We’re really proud of Dan, and he deservedly received the Sheffield ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award after completing his initial one year apprenticeship.


Mollie Slingsby, Customer Liaison Apprentice

Mollie started her apprenticeship in our Customer Services team back in August 2016 after leaving school. She was looking for an apprenticeship but didn’t want to do a conventional college course or A-Levels, and was pointed in the direction of the SYHA apprenticeships through college. Mollie Slingsby

In her role Mollie deals with customers on a daily basis, answering enquiries, dealing with complaints and acting as the first point of contact for the organisation which is a huge responsibility.

We asked Mollie how she found the first six months of her apprenticeship:

“With no past experience working, my role has given me a better, more accurate insight into the work place and helped me to build confidence, which I didn’t have before starting work.

“I would recommend to anybody doing an apprenticeship with SYHA as it is such a nice environment to work in. The people you work with are always so willing to help and provide support as well as making you feel like a valued employee.”

Career Ready – Tafadzwa’s story

We often hear from people applying for roles at SYHA that work experience is hard to come by. That’s why we’re excited to be able support projects like the Career Ready programme at Longley Park Sixth Form College in Sheffield.

Pete and Tafadzwa on their final day together

Pete and Tafadzwa on their final day together

Career Ready supports students who are applying for university or looking to gain practical work experience. Every year we invite a student to come and spend some time with us, and last year we were delighted to welcome 17-year-old Tafadzwa to work with us for four weeks.

We teamed Tafadzwa (or T for short) up with our Neighbourhoods Team Leader, Pete Jepson, who acted as T’s mentor throughout his time with us and shared his vast experience of working in housing.

T was in the process of applying for an architecture course and wanted to learn more about the processes linked to designing buildings. Pete arranged for T to spend time working with our Development Team to find out more about how we build new homes and the role architects play in the process.

To make sure T could document his time with us, Pete also arranged for him to spend time with our Marketing Team who helped T with his personal statement application for university.

He shared some amazing stories with us about his upbringing in Zimbabwe and how at the age of six, he built his first building – a coop to protect his chickens. Since then he has been fascinated with building design. What a fabulous reason to get into architecture!

To round off his time with us, T got stuck in at a garden clearance with our NEAT team, helped organise a basketball tournament for local children with our friends at the Sheffield Sharks, and even came along to our kick start meeting for our WikiHouse pilot.

Since spending time with us, T has also held a short art exhibition at the Bank Street Art Gallery in Sheffield showcasing some of his work.

T getting stuck in with our NEAT team

T getting stuck in with our NEAT team

We asked Tafadzwa about his time with us, he said:

“I’d like to say thank you to Pete, he has been a great mentor and he really took me under his wing. I know so much more about the processes in architecture, but also about a work place environment. 

“What I’ll take away from my experience is that when designing a building, it’s not just a design, you have to think about who is going to live there and what they want.

“I’d recommend the Career Ready programme with South Yorkshire Housing Association to anyone. I didn’t just sit and watch what was going on, I was given lots of opportunities to get involved in exciting new projects.”

T sent in his application to Leeds, Sheffield, Hertfordshire and Nottingham Universities and we’ve got our fingers crossed that he gets in!

Pete said: “I’d like to wish T all the best with his career, he was a great person to work with and hope to see him come back to SYHA as a qualified architect in the future.” 

“The programme is something I love being involved in, and I’m already looking forward to working with a new student this year.”