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Training & Employment Case Studies x4

EHCGP Projects Training and Employment Case Studies

The fact that some community led housing organisations would be able to provide training and employment opportunities, was one of the factors that led Ministers to agree to the creation of a Community Grants Programme, as a separate part of the overall DCLG Empty Homes Programme .


Quite a few organisations, in receipt of EHCGP funding, are now running training programmes  and even taking on  apprentices . Mindful that others may want to try and do something similar, this series of case studies has been produced, in order to help explain how it can be done.

Location: Huddersfield
Established: 2002
Funding: Empty Homes Community Grants Programme round 1 and 2
Apprenticeships/Trainees: 3 / 20


Fresh Horizons is a non-profit community organisation based in Deighton, Huddersfield. The organisation delivers a range of services in the local community in partnership with the Local Authority, VCOs and the private sector with a key mission to generate sustainable employment for local people and rejuvenate the local community by bringing empty and abandoned properties back into use.


The organisation were awarded the Empty Homes Community Grant in both rounds one and two, and are bringing a total of 67 local properties back into use under the scheme. The organisation also works with local RSL’s with access to the HCA’s empty homes funding to bring more properties back into use.



Training and employment programme


Fresh Horizons’ key mission is to create employment in areas of deprivation through community service delivery.  Training programmes in construction allows the organisation to achieve this mission. The organisation do however sub-contract local building firms in the delivery of specialist areas including roofing and electrical installation.


Fresh Horizons currently have 3 apprentices and are starting 20 construction traineeships in September.  Their last 5 apprentices completed their training in July 2012. Fresh Horizons  employ both trainees and apprenticeships, trainees are aged between 18-24 years old and are employed for a 6 month combining college work with work on the empty homes programme.

While at college trainees undertake a range of vocational skills training, including basic maths and English, and employability training, as well as identifying which trade they are best suited for. During the traineeships we are working with local employers, the college and the Construction Industry Training Board in order to source full apprenticeships.  At the end of the traineeship all trainees are interviewed for a limited number of places.


Apprentices are employed for a minimum of two years at the appropriate rate.  They attend college on a day or block release basis to complete their Intermediate Apprenticeship.  The framework includes an appropriate NVQ Level 2, Employee Rights and Responsibilities and Functional Skills.


Apprentices can advance where appropriate through further employment and study at NVQ Level 3 to an Advanced Apprenticeships in their trade.


Training is delivered by a number of external providers in line with national frameworks for the industry.  We use Kirklees College, Leeds College of Building and the Construction Industry Training Board.


In addition we use private training providers for specific vocational and health and safety training (Part P, Working at Heights, Asbestos Awareness etc.)




Apprentices are recruited through local networks.  Fresh Horizons employ a Community Learning Mentor and Youth Workers who work to support local young people into appropriate training and employment.


All apprentices are trained and must undertake and pass the Be Constructive test administered by the Construction Industry Training Board.  Evaluation is carried out by the training providers.  Fresh Horizons provide evidence statements of work activity needed to meet the full framework.

Trainees are recruited through Job Centre Plus and Kirklees Council.  Traineeships are targeted toward those aged 18 to 24 who have been on Job Seekers Allowance for more than 10 weeks but less than 26 weeks, so they have not entered any work programme.


The Fresh Horizon housing allocation policy favours those in local employment and contributing to improving the local community. Currently two former apprentices, one current apprentice and one former Future Jobs Funded trainee are living in Fresh Horizon-managed properties.



According to Mike McCusker the Fresh Horizons Managing Director, the organisation “is ‘in scope’ with the Construction Industry Training Board”.  This means Fresh Horizons are recognised as a construction company and as such pay a monthly levy based on our payroll.  We are able to draw down grant for apprenticeships and qualifications gained by qualified staff who have completed appropriate training.  In addition the organisation submit an annual training plan for all company staff for which they claim grant back at a rate per day for any appropriate training over 3 hours in duration.


Advice for other organisations


Mike McCusker, Managing Director, Fresh Horizons


Employing and developing the skills of local people in deprived areas is why we exist.  To take on apprentices you need a high volume of on-going work.  We have focussed our empty homes programme on lease and refurbishment to maximise the volume of properties we undertake and have constructed a recycling model for the finances in order to be able to continue to refurbish properties at the end of the programme.

Apprentices come at a price.  An academic study by Warwick University estimated that an apprentice will have a net cost to an employer of between £3,100 and £10,000 during their first three years.  There is a net benefit to the employer if they stay with you for three years.  We see this as a real investment in our local community leading to long term well paid employment for the individuals.


If you are seeking to develop a construction or maintenance arm of your organisation you should contact the Construction Industry Training Board.  They can explain what levy you would pay if recognised as ‘in scope’ and what grant you would be eligible for.

Location: London and Brighton
Established: 2001
Funding: Empty Homes Community Grants Programme round1 and 2
Trainees: 20+ per year


PHASES (People Housing and Social Enterprise Scheme) are a social enterprise based in South East London dedicated to helping a range of disadvantaged people improve their lives through construction and environmental projects.  The organisation’s key area of operation focuses on training individuals in building, refurbishment and construction skills while bringing empty properties back into use. PHASES currently manage 50 trainees and employ a team of 20. The organisation are recipients of the DCLG’s Empty Homes Community Grants programme and plan to restore buildings to provide 16 units and over 50 bedrooms in the Southwark and Brighton areas.




PHASES trainees traditionally come from homeless backgrounds, through a partnership with City of Westminster FE College, who run a homeless DIY skills course. The majority of PHASES trainees are recruited from a combination of hostels, homeless day centres and other referrers in the homeless sector.


Training and employment programme


PHASES currently operate using trainees rather than apprentices, around 20 trainees will pass through PHASES level 1 basic training stage each year.  Overalls and work boots are provided throughout training and lunch and travel expenses are met.  An emphasis is placed on Health & Safety procedures. Trainees can practise for their Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) Health & Safety Test. When a trainee is ready PHASES will fund the cost of the test.


PHASES’s training programme operates through four ‘phases’:


  1. An initial learning phase where trainees develop basic skills in a workshop environment.
    Trainees can choose from a selection of practical activities, including: plastering; tiling; basic carpentry; and painting and decorating.  Trainees are encouraged to be punctual and take pride in their work. Problem solving and working with others is also fostered.


  1. A second phase, where trainees get the opportunity to train in a real construction environment usually with a commercial property.

  2. A third phase for trainees who are serious about entering the construction industry, trainees work on empty residential properties alongside professionals. Trainees may be paid a wage or simply expenses, depending on their level of skill and experience.  Our professional builders are chosen carefully for their abilities as trainers and the trainees maintain portfolios to record their learning. During this phase trainees will usually learn additional plumbing and electrical skills.


PHASES project-manage these renovations, including the drawing of any plans, preparing schedules of work, applications for planning permission and building regulation consent. To make these projects financially viable, rent-free periods or reduced rent periods are sought.

  1. A final fourth phase, trainees who have passed through PHASE 3 are supported into the construction industry as either employed or self-employed contractors. PHASES assists in applying for grants for tools; direction in finding further professional training courses to enhance trainees’ skills; or making links with construction companies who might employ them. Trainees are also welcome to quote for work in their own right on our future renovation projects


At present trainees receive no formal qualifications although the organisation is looking at offering an NVQ level one in the near future. Evaluation of the trainee progress is carried out by a training coordinator using such tools as portfolio compilation. For trainees eager to continue in construction PHASE support the to gain their Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) card – which covers health & safety issues and enables trainees to work on sites.

Brockley Rise site



Funding for training is not easy to access for small organisations. Mainstream Skills Funding Agency funding is generally only available to the FE sector. As such, PHASES’ funding tends to be pieced together from separate applications to trusts and foundations.


Advice for other organisations

Glenn Heaton, Project Manager

“Employment and training programmes can be costly and are best done with the support of a local further education college.”

Location: East Hull
Established: 1996
Funding: Empty Homes Community Grants Programme round1 and 2
Apprentices/Trainees: 4/200


PROBE (Hull) are a not-for-profit organisation operating as a social enterprise in East Hull. The organisation, established in 1996, seeks to address high unemployment and local deprivation in the East Hull area through a variety of community-based projects including empty homes work. PROBE (Hull) were awarded funding through the DCLG’s Empty Home Community Grants programme round one to provide 36 affordable properties. In 2013 PROBE were again successful in securing the EHCGP grant.




All trainees are sourced from the local college while apprentices work with a professional employer 3-4 days per week.


Training and Employment programme


PROBE’s key mission in their work with empty properties is to provide training and employment opportunities to local young people. The organisation currently employs 4 apprentices and has the capacity to take on up to 200 trainees per year on a BTEC, NVQ or City & Guild, sourced from Hull College. Fundamental to PROBE’s successful programme is the strength of their local partnerships with Hull College (Construction), Hull City Council and the local private sector. Trainees and apprentices will often work alongside professional building firms on site.





PROBE do not currently access any external funding for trainees or apprenticeships, and fund all their work through internal reserves generated through their 75% purchase-repair 25% lease-repair voids programme.


Advice for other organisations

Graham Longbone, PROBE (Hull)

The key to successful trainee and apprenticeship programmes is developing good partnerships with local colleges, and an awareness of managing capacity restraints including health and safety training.

Location: Teesside, Redcar and Cleveland
Established: 1987
Funding: Empty Homes Community Grants Programme round 1 and 2
Apprentices/Trainees: 15/10

Community Campus ’87 was formed by a group of concerned individuals who were motivated to do something about the growing crisis of youth homelessness in Teesside in the mid-1980s. The primary aim was simply to provide housing with support, to enable homeless young people to gain the skills and experience to access and keep their own home. The organisation was awarded the Empty Homes Community Grant in both rounds 1 and 2, in order to provide 55 bedrooms from 11 empty properties.

CC87 is based upon providing opportunities for young people so we have always tried to involves clients in the developmental process to achieve a bigger social impact and create jobs/training opportunities in an area of economic decline.

Training and employment programme

The Key Skills project started as a self-rehabilitation scheme linking the need for housing with formal and informal training and empty homes in Middlesbrough and Stockton in 1991 and was inspired by Community Campus ’87 experiences in buying its first property for renovation back in 1989.

Building on the success of the initial Key Skills project, Community Campus ’87, working with Hartlepool New Deal for Communities (NDC) and Hartlepool Revival deliver the Opening Doors project, providing construction based training for NDC residents through the refurbishment of houses and community buildings in the local community.

CC87 work with a range of local partners, from local schools, colleges , the DWP, the Princes Trust and local voluntary development agencies to develop and run trainee and employment programmes on their empty homes sites. The organisation currently have 15 apprentices on the books – on 12 months paid contracts via a variety of worklessness schemes topped up with CITB funding and earned income, and 5-10 trainees sourced from schools or colleges.  CC87 apprentices have a 12 month contract normally at the minimum wage, while the trainees are normally but not exclusively volunteers or on a paid scheme via other agencies.

A  designated training officer co-ordinates the training programmes and works with 3-4 local colleges to provide NVQ qualifications, and training in safety management, first aid, and manual handling among other things.


CC87 fund their training work through CITB Grants, North East procurement community grant, Stockton council funding, DWP funding, earned income and the Youth Contract.


Carl Ditchburn, Chief Executive Officer

“Be realistic about numbers and what you can offer – manage risk, link with bigger agencies that will be happy with your outcomes and remember by taking on one apprentice you could be helping a young person to a life start.”


By Tom Cowan 17/08/2013