Hounslow Homes - Apprentice Recruiting
Hounslow Homes works closely with the London Borough of Hounslow and tenants to deliver
good quality housing services, and was one of the first Arm’s Length Management
Organisations (ALMOs) in the UK to manage and improve local authority housing stock. This
transition from being a part of local government to that of an independently managed not-for-
profit company has required significant shifts in the culture and attitudes of the staff.
Gender & Diversity Issues
There are approximately 330 employees in the Property Services Directorate of Hounslow
Homes. All craft employees are City & Guilds or NVQ 2/3 qualified. The maintenance
workforce is 99% male. In contrast, the call centre supporting Property Services has a 75%
Although Hounslow Homes had received 700 applications for 12 craft apprenticeship
positions in 2004, only 2 of the applicants were young women. In the spring of 2005, Pauline
Ripley, Training Manager for Hounslow Homes, recognised that new strategies would be
needed if Hounslow Homes were going to be successful in recruiting more diverse candidates
in the future. She contacted the UK Resource Centre for assistance.
Developing a New Strategy
Clare Wilson, Employer Liaison Coordinator, and Tracie Fenton, Sector Skills Coordinator,
began working with Pauline. Clare visited Hounslow Homes in March 2005 and discussed a
number of services that could be provided by JIVE to help find female apprentice candidates.
Claire Connaughton, Communications Manager, John Devonshire, Apprentice Manager,
Linda Chapman, the UNISON steward for Hounslow Homes and Graham Spiller, Human
Resources Manager, were also part of this meeting. A review of their recruiting advertising
found only a minor change would be needed to highlight the opportunities for women. High on
the list of possible actions was the use of the Cultural Analysis Tool or CAT, a questionnaire
designed to assist employers in understanding and benchmarking the gender culture of their
workplace. Attributes assessed were both ‘hard’ (tangible) and ‘soft’ (more intangible) factors
that contribute to the underlying, often unspoken, workplace cultures.
The UKRC asked Janice Kinory, JIVE South East Project Manager, to work with Hounslow
Homes. A second meeting was held in late April 2005 to acquaint Hounslow Homes key
personnel with Janice and discuss administration of the CAT. This meeting included Sayeed
Kadir, Director of Property Services, Sara Durrell, Communications Officer, Amelia Hulbert,
Training Administrator, Linda, Pauline and John. Key decisions were made at the meeting
relating to the CAT , including how the questionnaires would be distributed, which employees
and managers would receive them, and timing to complete the survey. Due to the level of
gender segregation, the survey would cover both call centre and craft employees. Follow-up
actions were required before the survey could proceed. Other key stakeholders would need to
be advised of and agree the plans. Pauline completed a questionnaire about company
policies and procedures that would aid the analysis of the responses. A letter to accompany
the questionnaires and explain their purpose was drafted by Sayeed and approved. The
survey questionnaires were delivered to Hounslow Homes in mid-July 2005.
Distribution of questionnaires to craft employees took place at their monthly tool box talks,
regularly scheduled meetings and other official matters. With July and August as heavy
holiday periods, distribution was slower than anticipated. Employees were given until late
September to submit the confidential responses back to the UKRC. By mid October 2005, the
UKRC had analysed the replies and a review meeting was scheduled at Hounslow Homes.
Janice and Rachel Epson, a JIVE trainer, licensed electrician and electrical contracting
business owner, met with Pauline, Sayeed, John and Graham to present the results of the
survey. Responses for managers and staff had been quantified and were reported back. With
the larger number of participants, the responses were separated into male and female staff
The CAT highlighted a need for additional training about gender in the workplace starting with
the management team. Gender issues training had been de-emphasised while Hounslow
Homes had focused upon the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act. The new
Gender Equality Duty coming in to force in April 2007 was discussed and was proposed as a
focus for new training for managers and staff.
Taking Positive Action, Getting Positive Results
In discussions with the apprentice manager, it was apparent that he was concerned that
positive action activities to raise the number of female candidates should not result in less
qualified candidates being taken on as apprentices. The JIVE team were able to assure him
that we had the same objective, and were certain that new strategies for publicising
apprenticeships would bring in female candidates equal to the other candidates.
Due to management staff changes at Hounslow Homes, Janice, Rachel, Pauline and
Veronica Benson, JIVE South East’s Employer Liaison Manager, held a meeting in February
2006 to acquaint Ian Wallis, Deputy Operations Manager for Property Services, Martin Ross,
Personnel Manager for Property Services, Dave Plummer, Operations Manager for Property
Services, and Radiya Kaderbhai, Equalities Policy Officer, with the CAT results and ideas for
recruiting atypical apprentices. Ideas discussed at the meeting included:
Ensuring that local schools knew that a non-traditional work experience opportunity in
Property Services could be provided for schoolgirls
Planning an open day for young women to familiarise them with apprenticeship
Designing a flyer advertising an apprenticeship information open day targeted at
Distributing the flyer to tenants, local childcare centres, the library, schools, colleges
Publicising the apprenticeship opportunities and the open day in the tenants’
A successful Open Day for Girls was held on 17 May 2006. Participants learned what
apprenticeships entailed, met with women already working in craft jobs in the Property
Services Directorate and gained an awareness of the Hounslow Homes apprenticeship
scheme application process.
With the extra effort put into recruiting, Hounslow Homes had 10 applications from women for
apprenticeships, a 500% increase on the previous year. Of the 4 apprenticeship positions
available, 1 was awarded to a female candidate based upon the interview panel
recommendation. As this individual had already completed two years of plumbing training at a
local college, she was able to take up her apprenticeship ready to contribute to the workplace.
Based upon the success of this year’s recruiting efforts, Hounslow Homes plans to continue
their work with local schools and their annual girls’ day to interest young women in careers in
craft occupations. Two of the girls who were unsuccessful candidates have begun studying
plumbing at local Further Education colleges and hope to apply for apprenticeship positions
again next year.
If you wish to know more about the issues covered in this case study, please contact Janice
Kinory or Pauline Ripley.