Local housing association Aster Group has long championed apprenticeships, investing, nurturing and inspiring the next generation of talent. This successful apprenticeship programme was recently recognised by Exeter College in its first ever Standards and Sparkles ceremony, where Aster won three awards.
Apprentice carpenter, Will Green won the Inspiring Journey Award, impressing Exeter College with the story of his career change. In his early 30s, Will switched from a career in finance to pursue his dream of being a fully qualified carpenter in order to do what he loves full time.
Commenting on the new career direction, Will said: “I wanted to change my career to a field that was going to challenge me in new ways, while being able to learn progressive skills from professionals in a supportive and diverse environment.”
A key part in the success of an apprentice’s journey is the support and mentoring they receive from experienced colleagues. Richard Slayer, contracts supervisor, picked up the Unsung Hero Award in recognition of his commitment and dedication to mentoring, not only his own apprentices, but also the wider apprenticeship cohort in other locations and teams across the Group.
Commenting on the award, Richard said: “Apprentices are the life blood and the future of our business. Good mentors support and encourage life and learning skills.”
The final award for Aster was the Employer Community Award, in recognition of the work done supporting the community through apprentice volunteering activities.
In Weymouth, a team of Aster apprentices volunteered a week of their time to give a local community centre a face lift. The centre is a popular hub used for a range of community activities including toddler’s clubs, table tennis and chess groups. In Andover, a group of apprentices and team leaders volunteered their time to help get a community allotment used by local organisations and charities back on its feet. The team repaired the allotment’s greenhouse, flower beds, growing polly tunnel and shed to get it ready for the growing season ahead.
Commenting on Aster’s success at the awards, Jane Pound, Aster Group people director employee relations, said: “This is fantastic recognition of the amazing efforts of our apprentices, their colleagues and our partners in delivering positive outcomes to our local communities.”