CCR Graduate scheme proves its worth in the Housing Sector

Over the summer the Cardiff Capital Region Graduate Scheme has worked with three housing associations, Pobl Group, Bron Afon Community Housing and Monmouthshire Housing Association, to successfully appoint graduates across various roles.

From accessing a wide pool of graduate talent to easing the burden of recruitment, these organisations have all experienced the benefits of using the service to find the right the candidate. What did they have to say about the Graduate Scheme?

Pobl are the largest housing association in South Wales, they work across many sectors; care and support, housing, commercial and corporate services. At Pobl, they believe there is a career for everyone and a career they are keen to assert isn’t just “odd jobs” but indeed a career you’ll be able to learn and grow in. As a company they pride themselves on diversity and making a difference, their strapline is indeed ‘we make a difference to people’s lives’ and that is consistent across all their directorates. The scale of their business is over 2,500 staff ranging from Pembrokeshire to Monmouthshire and up to Powys.

Chris Hodge, Senior Business Partner for Recruitment at Pobl, who made the decision to advertise the Trainee Accountant role through the Cardiff Capital Region Graduate Scheme, stated that since working with us they’ve had a large numbers of applications at a very high standard which has been fantastic. Chris said that; “We asked for a 2:1 related to finance for this particular role. It was fantastic to have such a high volume and high quality of graduate right from the offset. Initially we were going to have a one-day assessment but due to the large volume of applications we are doing a two-stage where we see a large number initially and then reduce to just five for the second day. It’s forced us to expand due to the quality”.

Why work with the CCR?

“One of reasons we chose to work with the CCR is the pool of candidates you have. You work across the universities so it’s almost a ready-made pool of graduates across the region. I was looking at the market and there was a company who do the same as the CCR but they would have charged £4,000 per placement and that has to come from the employer or the graduate’s wages. Your model gets rid of the need for that. We will be assessing the first stage next week and then onto the final stage. They then start the ILM with us shortly afterwards. It was a no brainer to be with you. Companies should really think of what role they could make for a graduate within their corporate structure or what role they are failing to recruit for at the moment and then you could assist in filling that gap with someone fresh out of university”.

Bron Afon Community Housing has been investing in people, homes and communities in Torfaen since 2008. They are run by their staff and members who love making a difference to people’s lives. Their work covers construction, community regeneration, support and more. They believe that by Investing in their local community they can improve the lives and wellbeing of the people of Torfaen whilst creating and securing lasting employment. Through the years they have been proud to develop apprentices and trainees at the start of their working lives and helped kick-start their future careers.

Why work with the CCR?

Michael Bailey, Business Intelligence Manager at Bron Afon, was looking for a Graduate Junior Business Intelligence Officer and said they initially chose the Cardiff Capital Region Graduate Scheme because; “we were so keen to work with you as keeping talent in South Wales fits with our core tenets. From the offset the team were easy to work with, in-fact they removed the majority of the burden of recruiting! A quick face-to-face meeting to outline what we needed and then they were off to the races; doubling down on their connections with the University of South Wales, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and local Open University graduates, something which we simply did not have. We received applications from graduates with a myriad of backgrounds and skills which really gave us an opportunity to consider the team and cultural fit and appointed an excellent individual who will definitely make an impact to our business”.

Monmouthshire Housing Association came into existence from Monmouthshire County Council’s 240 staff to help fund the housing development in the County. The particular position they worked with the CCR on was a Graduate Trainee Surveyor. There’s a strong ethos to provide learning and development opportunities to add to their qualifications going along. This scheme provided everything we needed to develop this type of role. For this one vacancy Monmouthshire had forty seven applications. The CCR were able to provide a shortlist of thirteen leaving Monmouthshire able to continue with their selection process thereafter.

Karen Peploe, Head of HR and Training at Monmouthshire Housing, stated that; “If we did this off our own back I’m not sure we would have had such high numbers of applicants. It attracted a larger pool of applicants to apply to give us such a strong shortlist. We were looking for people in particular who had completed their RICS qualification. We relied on Laura from the CCR graduate team to shortlist candidates who not only demonstrated the right criteria, including the RICS qualification, but also that they demonstrated the personal aptitudes to succeed in this trainee scheme”.

Working with the CCR Graduate Scheme

Rhiannon Newell, Trainee HR Officer, Monmouthshire Housing, added that; “the general support from the team at the CCR has been fantastic. The communication has been great, they have been flexible, we had to do a lot of this process through lockdown and we had to be flexible and the team at CCR have been so supportive and proactive and checked that the process has actually worked for us. One of the big things that attracted us to the scheme is the management development and our graduate will be part of a large network of likeminded people studying the ILM qualification. A large support network of people our graduate can link up with is a brilliant advantage in offering the ILM as part of our trainee scheme. They gain a management qualification, that’s such a big thing in today’s increasingly competitive market. Phillip, our graduate, also moved from Newcastle back to his family in Monmouth on the strength of this position so we are pleased to be able to offer an opportunity like this and he obviously thought a lot about the role. We have other trainee programs going on in the organisation and with the success of Phillip then we would be very keen in using the CCR graduate scheme again”.

“It was great to work with Cardiff City Region when making our recent appointment. At MHA we firmly believe that the city region approach is the future and we decided to get in early to help push for its success. We look forward to further appointments and future joint working with the City Region”.  John Keegan, Chief Executive, Monmouthshire Housing Association.

Phillipa Knowles, People and Business Director at Community Housing Cymru said:

“We have heard time and again from people who work in housing, that they ‘fell’ into their jobs, but we know that there are over 100 different types of roles available that lead to long and rewarding careers in housing, including IT, finance, innovation and communications.

By collaborating with the Cardiff Capital Region Graduate Scheme, housing associations in South Wales will be able to attract even more great talent into the sector, offering paid work experience to graduates who aspire to work in a diverse organisation where they can make a real difference to people’s lives.

When we established the sector wide This is Housing platform, we aimed to highlight career opportunities across the sector, this collaboration with Cardiff Capital Region is another great way of making that happen.”

Graduates may not have traditionally considered or even realised the vast and diverse opportunities in the housing sector and the opportunity it could give them to develop their skills. Equally by working with the CCR Graduate Scheme, housing associations can ensure that their opportunities are placed on the radar of graduates and attract high quality applications.

If you or your organisation is expanding or adapting and you need some additional help with recruiting quality graduates, then it’s time to consider getting involved with the Cardiff Capital Region Graduate Scheme.

Register your interest on the website or contact laura.carter@cardiff.gov.uk / geraldine.osullivan@cardiff.gov.uk for more information.

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