Hightown Housing Association has increased the opportunities for apprentices and 22-year-old JJ Pao Wilks is one of those to have taken the chance to get his foot on the career ladder.

JJ, who lives in Hemel Hempstead, spends four days a week at Hightown as a multi-trade maintenance apprentice and one day a week studying at West Herts College for his multi-trade qualification.

National Apprenticeship Week runs from 6th – 10th March and celebrates the positive impact apprenticeships and traineeships have on individuals, businesses and the economy.

JJ said: “I was previously doing shop work and studying carpentry at college. I wanted a job where I could use the skills I had learnt, and do something I had a real interest in. Hightown’s advert for an apprentice really stood out as it was just what I was looking for. It meant I could get the practical experience I need.

“On a typical day at Hightown I’m in head office working on general maintenance jobs like painting, changing lightbulbs and making sure the training rooms are set up for the day. I also go out to their estates and supported housing schemes, where I might be replacing door frames, or helping with other maintenance tasks.

“I enjoy getting out and about as it makes the job varied and interesting. Hightown is also a really good employer to work for – they look after us and everyone has been really supportive. If we need anything, they always make sure we’re given the right tools and equipment for the job.”

JJ’s manager Mark Rooney, Estates and Facilities Manager, agreed their new apprentice has made the role a great success. “JJ has been fantastic to work with as he has a great attitude and is really pro-active,” he said. “You never have to ask him to do something twice – sometimes he’s already completed a task before being asked!”

This year’s theme for National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ and JJ is confident Hightown has already helped him move up the ladder. “I’ve learnt so much already and have made lots of good contacts in the trade, just through working at Hightown”, he said. “My long-term goal is to be self-employed and use the skills I’m learning to have my own business.”

You can find out more about apprenticeships at www.getingofar.gov.uk