PLUS Dane has taken on a record 15 apprentices as part of its new policy direction to support young people with training and development to become the stars of the future.Earlier this year the housing association set out a promise to provide more chances for young people to be able to earn while they learn.Plus Dane initially planned to recruit ten new apprentices, but was inundated with more than 500 applications from across Merseyside and Cheshire, many of such high quality that it was decided to take on extra roles.The housing association believe this latest move will ensure that even more young people can benefit from an alternative route to higher education and make a valuable contribution to the business.To strengthen this commitment, the organisation also made a policy decision that all future entry-level jobs will be apprenticeships.In addition, line managers overseeing apprentices have had relevant training to ensure staff are fully engaged with the organisation’s vision to working with apprentices and young people. Mentors are also being identified and trained to offer their support to our new recruits.Plus Dane has sealed its commitment to its apprenticeship programme by joining The 5% Club, an industry-led campaign in which members strive to achieve 5% of their workforce consisting of apprentices, sponsored students and/or graduates on formalised training schemes within five years. Recruiting apprentices is also part of Plus Dane’s drive to back the national Get in Go Far campaign https://www.getingofar.gov.uk/Barbara Spicer CBE, Chief Executive of Plus Dane said: “As somebody who left school after my O Levels and has had lots of opportunities to ‘learn on the job’ I have always been firmly committed to having trainees and apprentices as part of the workforce. This new emphasis from Plus Dane to really drive forward our commitment to apprentices is both good for the young people we are employing and good for the business – over 89% of employers who have apprentices believe it increases productivity.“This time we have been able to offer roles in a diverse range of careers – from HR, to customer services; plumbing & joinery – even a new PA for me! Our current apprentices are coming in up to level 3 but we very much hope to see some of those young people progress on to higher and degree level apprenticeships with us in the future indeed some of our existing staff are about to embark on higher level apprenticeships.”The organisation will pay the new apprentices the national minimum wage rather than apprentice minimum wage which means they will be taking home at least an additional £5,500 per year.Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “It is fantastic to see Plus Dane embracing apprenticeships and giving young people an all-important first foot on the employment ladder. This is an issue I am really passionate about, which is why we insist on apprenticeships being created when we let major contracts such as for schools and houses, and it is great to see our social housing partners doing the same.“We are now one of the best performing of the big cities when it comes to creating apprenticeships and we also have seen a drop in the number of teenagers classed as not in education, employment or training since 2012. There is much more work to do, but with the help of the likes of Plus Dane, we are making good progress.”Plus Dane is working in partnership with three learning organisations to deliver the ambitious new training programme.Following a series of group assessments and interviews in July, the fifteen newly-recruited apprentices include a Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive Office, two in customer services, one in IT, property and corporate roles, two in HR and organisational development and six trades positions.The successful applicants include a Plus Dane tenant and one of Plus Dane’s existing apprentices will also be continuing for an additional year to progress in their business administration role.