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National recognition for electrical training

Pictured celebrating the success of Property Plus at the ECA Awards are (L-R) Darren Wetwood, Rosie Payne, assistant director Andrew Kenny, Housing Plus Group chief executive Sarah Boden, John Morrall, Cathy Jones and Michelle Lowry.

An ambitious apprenticeship programme, promotion opportunities and a far-reaching training plan post-merger helped Property Plus spark the interest of judges in national awards given by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) last week.

In the award for Excellence in Training and Development presented in London on 9 June, Property Plus was highly commended for training to support the growth of its in-house electrical team.

Property Plus is part of Housing Plus Group, providing repairs and maintenance for 12,000 homes as well as retirement living communities throughout Staffordshire and Shropshire.

In 2014 Property Plus launched a new electrical service with a team of two electricians. By the end of 2016 it employed 14 electrical specialists and had created training opportunities for four apprentices. The annual value of work carried out by the team soared from £251,607 to £1,075,139 in the same period.

The 2016 merger between Severnside Housing and South Staffordshire Housing Association brought the integration of a traditional electrical division, with the need for staff to be quickly upskilled and qualified. All the new employees immediately began working towards high-level City & Guilds qualifications to ensure that wherever they live, customers receive the same quality of service from the electrical team.

Other training ingredients which particularly impressed the judges included a bespoke driving scheme to make sure that apprentices were safe behind the wheel of large vans and 4x4 vehicles. The company has also created supervisory opportunities for the leading lights of its electrical team.

“I feel as though I’m getting the gold standard of training, with plenty of opportunities for me at the end of my apprenticeship,” said Katie Douglas who joined Property Plus as an electrical apprentice in 2016.

Electrical project manager Steve Ujma said that high quality training and career development brought benefits at all levels of the team: “The training we provide helps us to retain experienced staff as well as encouraging new entrants into the sector.”

The team was recognised at the ECA Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Bankside Hotel in London, with a presentation by actor and comedian Hugh Dennis.

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