How did you first hear about jobs in housing?
I was aware of the Housing Executive mostly by seeing Housing Officers out and about around the local area. The Housing Executive is also responsible for the estates close to where I live and I knew people living in Housing Executive homes. Because of this I realised there were a lot of different jobs available in housing.
How did you find further information about a career in housing?
I researched on the internet and looked at possible careers that would be available within housing and I found out general information about the organisation. There was also a lot of information available as part of the recruitment pack that was specific to the trainee programme.
What was it that appealed to you when you were thinking about a job in housing?
I wanted to work in the public sector as I felt it would be a secure job with good benefits. I was working on the building sites beforehand where you didn't get paid if you needed to take a day off and holidays were set to two weeks at Christmas and two weeks in the summer. The job in housing offered paid annual leave that I could take whenever I needed and a steady salary.
How did you get your first job in housing?
I was out of work at the time when I saw the apprenticeship scheme with the Direct Labour Organisation advertised in the local paper. I got all the recruitment information from the website and sent in the application form. I was interviewed and got the job. To start with the job was on a temporary contract but I was guaranteed a permanent full time job if I successfully completed the qualifications.
What personal skills and qualifications did you have that helped you secure your first job in housing?
They were looking for people who were willing to do the courses and any extra qualifications that might be needed for the job. Having already completed a three year apprenticeship in joinery I knew what the programme would be like and the work that would be involved in completing the exams.
I was also young and willing to learn new things and wasn't afraid of hard work.
What skills & training have you gained since you have had your job in housing?
I have completed the NVQ Level 2 in Horticulture and Landscaping. This covered modules such as preparing ground for landscaping, machinery maintenance and working with shrubs and trees. It also covered modules in working with customers, team working, and health and safety in the workplace. This involved assessments throughout the two years where an assessor came out and watched my work. I also had to put together a portfolio of information on how I did my job.
I have also gained my B1 license which allows me to pull a trailer and drive anything up to five and a half tonne.
I also completed courses in the following:
Describe a typical day?
My job varies according to the season. In the summertime I come into work at eight o'clock and carry out maintenance checks on the machinery and my vehicle and re-fuel them. I then head off to one of the estates to cut the grass. When out cutting the grass I lift litter/debris/household waste that has been left around in the green areas and shrub beds.
If there is any damage to the grounds, shrubs or trees I report it to the supervisor who makes sure that the necessary repairs are carried out.
I also carry out bonfire lifts. This is where people burn rubbish, furniture or household waste on the grounds outside the Housing Executive homes and I have to remove the debris left behind.
Sometimes I get the opportunity to work on community based projects. The most recent one was working on a community garden for one of the estates. We erected fences around it, made pathways through the garden, put in a vegetable plot, planted apple trees and berry bushes and designed seating areas.
In the wintertime most of the work involves cleaning the green areas, annual shrub and hedge trimming, planting shrubs and trees and carrying out general repairs to grounds.
What would you tell people who are interested in a housing career?
I would tell them that it is a good career. It offers job security and good benefits and holidays. You also get to learn new things all the time and complete lots of courses.