An apprenticeship scheme which is helping to get unemployed council house tenants and their families back into work has scooped a top national award - beating off competition from nationally and internationally acclaimed companies including Nokia, Vodafone and ASDA.

Type=image;ImageID=2864;ImageClass=left;ImageTitle=Peer Awards for Excellence;TitleClass=strong;

Wolverhampton Homes' Learning, Employment and Achievement Programme, dubbed 'LEAP', was named overall winner of the national Peer Awards for Excellence at a ceremony in London last week. Wolverhampton Homes, the company which manages more than 23,000 homes in the city on behalf of Wolverhampton City Council, won the 'Business Awareness for the Community' category before scooping the top overall award for its work in supporting the local community.

The Peer Awards celebrate innovative projects introduced by UK companies which are making a difference to local communities. They were supported this year by the Independent newspaper, attracting submissions from more than 70 leading UK companies.

Launched last year, the LEAP programme was praised for its role in helping more than 80 council tenants and their families to get work experience, training and qualification opportunities in a bid to get more council tenants back into work.

LEAP has so far taken on 36 apprentices and has seen 14 tenants secure full time jobs. One LEAP graduate, tenant, Michelle Sawyer, 41, who lives in Bilston, was last month named 'Apprentice of the Year' for the West Midlands. Michelle left school with no qualifications and had never worked before enrolling on LEAP. Next month she's competing to be named the UK's 'National Apprentice of the Year'.

Mark Henderson, Director of Housing at Wolverhampton Homes, said: "We are so proud of all of our apprentices and the work they've put in to make the most of the opportunities they've been given through LEAP. To see Wolverhampton Homes recognised by peers and coming out on top against some of the biggest companies in the UK and indeed the world really is quite something."

Councillor Peter Bilson, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Prosperity, added: "Creating new apprenticeships and giving local people the skills they need to get back into work is so important to this city's future and Wolverhampton Homes is doing its bit to put that agenda on the map. To beat off competition from companies like Vodafone, 02 and ASDA is a massive coup for Wolverhampton and a ringing endorsement for what we're trying to do about creating more jobs in the city".

Tenants wanting to know more about the LEAP apprenticeship programme should visit Type=links;Linkid=2977;Title=Wolverhampton Homes Leap;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Thursday 31 October, 2013