I was lucky enough to be a mentor for the first ever Welsh Apprentice Challenge, run by Community Housing Cymru at their Annual Conference in Cardiff in November 2015.
When I was asked to be a mentor, I jumped at the chance. It sounded like an interesting opportunity and represented a chance for me to be challenged and stretched.
The truth is that being a mentor for the Welsh Apprentice Challenge was an absolutely fantastic experience. The challenge itself involved 15 apprentices, nominated from Housing Associations across Wales, the opportunity to develop a campaign from scratch to recruit more young people into a career in Housing. I was one of three mentors with five apprentices in each team.
Here are three things I learn’t over the few days:
- Apprentices have an amazing amount of enthusiasm: They are not constrained by their previous experiences of working in Housing. They have a can-do rather than can’t-do attitude which is infectious.
- If you want new ideas, employ new people: I was amazed that in the first 20 minutes of meeting each other for the first time, the team I was mentoring had introduced themselves, come up with an idea and how they would action it.
- The improvement over just two days was staggering: It was amazing to see how the apprentices grew in confidence over the two days, from being really worried about speaking, to speaking confidently as a group to over 100 delegates.
I don’t want to give too much away regarding the idea my team and the other two teams came up with, as they will be covering in an up-and-coming issue of 24 Housing Magazine, but suffice to say that all three campaigns were very compelling, having been well thought through and executed.
The feedback from the apprentices is that they thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and I am certain that they have all gained skills and experience that will be really useful for them in their ongoing Housing careers.
I only wish I could have bottled up their enthusiasm and ideas for myself!