Leading North East housing association Gentoo Group has strengthened its commitment to developing the region’s workforce by forming a strategic partnership with Sunderland College.
The collaboration will allow Gentoo to promote employment and career opportunities to students through work experience initiatives and further the development and training of its existing 1,200-strong workforce.
Through the partnership, a multi-skilling training programme has already been developed for Gentoo’s repairs and maintenance teams.
The programme will enhance the teams’ current skills enabling them to carry out repairs in different disciplines in addition to the trade in which they are already qualified, increasing the number of repairs that can be finished on a first visit, and thereby providing a better customer service.
As a result, more than 150 of Gentoo’s employees will achieve a Level 2 NVQ in Multi-Trade Repair and Refurbishment.
John Craggs Chief Executive Officer for Gentoo, said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Sunderland College.
“At Gentoo, we pride ourselves on inspiring people to make a difference, and this collaboration with the College will allow us to further enhance the skills of our staff, deliver an outstanding service to our customers and provide work experience opportunities through our apprenticeship scheme.”
He added: “Over the years we have established a strong track record working with the College on the delivery of education and training to meet the needs of Gentoo’s employees, apprentices and college students.
“I am confident this strategic partnership will support us in continuing to be a strong business, contribute to the local economy and develop new and existing talent.”
Creating new career and learning opportunities has always been a priority for Gentoo and is an important part of their workforce planning.
The organisation’s recent intake of apprentices are gaining on-the-job experience in a number of skilled trades, including electrical, plumbing, gas, and bricklaying, with much of the accompanying training taking place at the College’s state-of-the-art £29m City Campus.
Since 2001, the housing association has created more than 240 apprenticeships working together with Sunderland College, one of the region’s largest apprenticeship providers.
Ellen Thinnesen, Principal of Sunderland College, said: “Gentoo is a high-quality organisation and a long-standing and valued partner of the college. I’m delighted to build on our already strong relationship through the signing of this strategic partnership.
“Like Sunderland College, Gentoo is an organisation with ambition and aspiration.
“Working to support them through the delivery of high-quality training programmes, apprenticeship opportunities and workforce development, as well as providing a range of work experience placements for our students to improve employability and work-readiness skills, shows the real breadth and depth of our partnership.
“For almost two decades, we have worked hand-in-hand with Gentoo to produce a consistent pipeline of work-ready talent and we’re looking forward to building on this success as we develop our partnership further.”
Sunderland College is one of the top performing colleges in the North East with a turnover of £40m. In June 2016 the College was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted and the inspection team commended for its approach to partnership working and the important role it plays in meeting the needs of the local and regional economy.