In the summer of 2019, Radius Housing, in partnership with South Eastern Regional College, launched its first Higher Level Apprentice - Trainee Asset Officer programme. This apprenticeship enables successful applicants to undertake a two-year qualification in construction while earning as they learn the trade as a Trainee Asset Officer at Radius.
As part of Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Week, we chat with Orlagh Flaherty, our first Higher Level Apprentice, about balancing work and study and her career aspirations upon completion of the course.
do you feel are the benefits of taking the apprenticeship ‘earn as you learn’
The ‘earn as you learn’ concept is a great
benefit and hopefully there will be opportunities to progress once the
apprenticeship has finished.
encouraged you to avail of this apprenticeship opportunity?
I was ready to get back in to education
after leaving university in my second year as it wasn’t for me. I enjoyed my role
as an Administration Officer in the Assets team and seeing how the Asset Officers
carried out their role and thought his would be the perfect opportunity to
progress within the housing industry.
you tell us more about the nature of the HNC – what type of subjects are you
My course is a two-year HNC in Construction
in South Eastern Regional College at the Lisburn campus. There are four semesters and two units per semester. It is all
assignment based no exams. I have just completed my first semester where I did two units - Construction Management & Construction Technology. In Construction
Management I learned about Procurement, Health & Safety, CDM Regulations
and BIM. In Construction Technology I learned about different choices of
foundations, walls, floors & roofs for domestic, commercial &
industrial buildings & site & soil investigations. My biggest learning
curve so far has just been getting back in to education after such a long time
and managing a workload outside of work as I have been completing multiple
assignments at one time.
is traditionally viewed as a male-dominated sector, how do you feel as a young
woman entering the sector?
To be honest, I haven’t faced any
problems as of yet in regards to this. Anyone I have spoken to in Construction
is very keen for more females to take up roles in the sector as we are underrepresented.
There are more and more women working in the construction industry and the
conception that the industry is male-dominated is slowly beginning to change. I
am proud to be a part of this change.
does Radius support you throughout your apprenticeship?
I have regular meetings with my manager to
check on how I am getting on and how I am managing with college. As Radius has
allowed me to take Thursdays off, this allows me to concentrate on my
Apprenticeships are fantastic opportunities
for not only school leavers but also anyone looking to get back in to education
and progress their career. I have recently talked to a group of GCSE students
and shared with them my positive experience in an apprenticeship role, how it’s
not just for craft roles such as joinery and plumbing and also to encourage
girls to consider an apprenticeship in construction. I would definitely
recommend an apprenticeship as it's a great way to gain a qualification whilst
still working. I am really enjoying it. I am already applying what I have
learnt in my course to my role as Trainee Asset Officer.
would a typical week look like in your role?
I work four days a week in Radius (Thursdays off)
and I’m in college on a Tuesday & Wednesday evening 6pm – 9.30pm. At the
beginning of my apprenticeship I was shadowing other Asset Officers in both Response Repairs and Servicing teams. Now I am in the planned maintenance team
where I am also shadowing Asset Officers and learning the role whilst also
taking charge of my own adaptation projects.
If you would like to explore the current
apprenticeship opportunities available throughout Northern Ireland, please