Homeless apprentice told – You’re Hired!

By on 24/05/2011 in News

At the age of 18 Jennie Timms’ dreams for the future and becoming an accountant seemed to be over, after she was made homeless and forced to abandon her A Levels just a few months before the final exams

With no other options available Jennie was forced to move into a local hostel for homeless people and take a part-time job flipping burgers in a fast food take-away.

Under the eligibility rules for the hostel, she soon found her self stuck in a 'vicious circle' where, as an adult, she would risk losing the roof over her head if she attempted to return to full-time education or took a job for too many hours per week.

But for the next 18 months Jennie refused to give up hope and searched far and wide for opportunities to get her life back on track,

Her big break came in September 2010 when through the Birmingham Apprenticeship Scheme (BAS) she won a six-month placement at The Energy Saving Team, a fast expanding company in Erdington committed to creating green jobs by helping people save money on their energy bills.

At the company Jennie was able to pick back up the education and career development opportunities she had been forced to abandon at school. So successful has she been that recently Jennie had her apprenticeship extended beyond the initial placement.

In February 2011, following a short spell in council-run accommodation, she was even able for the first time to rent a home of her own in the private sector.

Jennie said: “When I first became homeless it was unbelievable how many blocks were suddenly put in my way. I was stuck in a vicious circle which could have so easily brought a dead stop to any prospects I had for the future.

“Winning a place on the apprenticeship quite literally turned my life around, and through it I was able to lift myself out of the hole in which I could have got so easily stuck. It has lead directly to putting a proper roof over my head, getting my career going once more and giving me the confidence to live my life in the future.”

Run by Birmingham City Council and funded through the Working Neighbourhood Fund, the BAS has seen 167 apprenticeships like Jennie's created over the past two years, with an amazing 155 apprentices retained in employment after the initial placement was completed.

One of the key jobs performed by Jennie and BAS colleagues at the Energy Saving Team is providing data analysis of the company's business and sales. 

Annette Kennedy, Jennie's 'mentor' at the Energy Saving Team said: “Jennie and her colleagues have been of great benefit to the company, helping drive up our productivity and creating data and analysis which is now dictating the company's marketing strategy.

“Not only are we developing the apprentices for the world of work by developing their core employability skills of: motivation, self-confidence, self-reliance and positive mental attitude is a gift the employer can give a young person that lasts a lifetime. But at the same time there is little doubt they are providing enormous benefits to the employer.”

Birmingham Apprenticeship Scheme Project Background:

BAS is a Working Neighbourhoods Funded project addressing the issues of youth unemployment by working with local firms to create additional apprenticeships for Birmingham. The scheme has increased the range of sectors and employers engaged with apprenticeships thus enabling a greater number of young people to access apprenticeships, develop new skills, and most importantly, to stay in employment.

Each employer signs a contract with BCC agreeing to employ their apprentice(s) for 2 years in return for a 1 year wage subsidy at National Minimum Wage and the training of members of staff to mentor/coach the apprentice(s). 

Each Coach / Mentor supports the apprentice to achieve relevant qualifications and core employment skills.

At May 2011:

  • The project had placed 167 apprentices into employment. (155 have been retained in employment (93%) at 13 weeks (compared to 73% National average for JSA claimants).
  • Of the 155 retained in employment 90% are from disadvantaged communities (where 25%+ of the working age population without work)
  • 93 different local businesses have supported the project


For more information or to arrange to speak to Jennie please contact Simon Houltby on 0121 303 3503

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