Top tips from our apprentice of the year

  02 JULY, 2017      CAREERS
Top tips from our apprentice of the year

Daniel Holdcroft was just 16 when he called our Burton office to ask if there were any apprenticeships being offered.
Now, at the age of 18, he has been named our Apprentice of the Year, having enjoyed tremendous success and made a significant impact during his time with the company.
It was Daniel’s dad, a painter at our Stoke-on-Trent branch, who prompted that first phone call to our training manager Jackie Budden, and Daniel now looks well on his way to following in his father’s footsteps.
But decorating doesn’t always run in the family, and new apprentices come from all walks of life. Here are Daniel’s top tips to anyone thinking that a Novus apprenticeship might be for them.

Don’t be scared

“I had to have an interview and go through a number of tests before I was selected as an apprentice. We were tested on basic maths and English, and also on our teamwork skills.
“No one likes tests, but actually it was fine once I got into it, and I’m glad I didn’t turn away from the opportunity to become an apprentice just because there was some work involved at the beginning.”

Push yourself

“When I first started, I was working on the outside of council houses, and we also painted the classrooms in a school during the summer holidays shortly after I joined Novus.

“Those early jobs were good, but I’ve taken more satisfaction from the times when I’ve really pushed myself, such as when we stripped and repainted the windows of a country club. It was a mansion house with Georgian-style windows and vines growing up the outside.

“Standing back and looking at our work after we had finished was a great feeling.”

Make friends

“Right from the start, all the apprentices got along with one another really well. It really pays off to try and get on with everyone as much as you can.

“One of the people I met during my first week entered some of the same competitions as me, and we are still mates to this day – I went over to Chester to visit him recently.”

Enter competitions

“I have entered a few competitions since I joined the Novus apprenticeship scheme, but last May I was lucky enough to win a regional heat of the Johnstone’s Young Painter of the Year competition.

“The final was held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, at the Painting and Decorating Show, and there were hundreds of people walking around and watching us in the final.

“The final lasted two days, and on the second day I forgot to bring my headphones with me. As a result, I couldn’t escape having to talk to people and answer questions while I was trying to work!

“Thankfully, it all turned out well in the end and I learned a great deal from it.”

Enjoy the experience

“In my first year at Novus, some apprentices got the opportunity to travel to events in the Netherlands and Slovenia.

“At these events, we got the chance to meet with young decorators from all over the world, and we also got to learn how painting and decorating differs in other countries.

“Learning about the products and techniques used in places like Slovenia was eye-opening, and meeting other young decorators from places like Norway, Italy, Germany and Switzerland was a fantastic experience – one I’d recommend to any apprentices who get the chance.”

How Eagle-eyed Contractors Can Help Landlords


Kevin Rhone, head of social value at Novus, explains why housing associations can glean new insights from contractors working in their communities and use them for more than completing building works. The social housing sector faces unending challenges. Not only are they tasked with regenerating communities, pressured to provide high quality homes and services, and challenged to increase their build rates, they’re also looked to as a key stakeholder in ensuring the safety and security of people in their communities. Having eyes and ears on the ground in these communities to make sure customers are safe and well is a bank-breaking investment, however. This is particularly true of national organisations borne of the spate of M&A activity in recent years. Monitoring communities more deeply than they’re obligated to do is almost impossible over their geographic footprints. Particularly since, for these organisations, huge amounts of capital have to be spent solely on maintaining stock. However, many RPs are missing an opportunity. They’re not using contractors’ insights, yet these businesses can offer a wealth of understanding about local communities. Construction and Maintenance Teams’ Positive Impact Of course, customer care officers can’t be everywhere at once. Construction and maintenance teams interact with housing associations’ customers every day. They see it all first hand and can be friendly faces on estates while also helping associations to identify solutions to regular issues. Many on-site professionals are keen to engage. They aren’t simply there to fix and repair homes, they build relationships with communities and in some cases, can be vulnerable people’s most frequent visitor while they’re around. They will regularly help elderly residents with their shopping and can be the first to discover if they’ve had an injury. Housing associations can also ask these teams to be vigilant for signs of violence and abuse and can ask them to keep their eyes open in areas where there are suspicions of drug use. While, yes, any responsible person would report illegal activity, contractors can help further by identifying trends too – how or why certain issues may be cropping up frequently. Using them in this way can help housing associations think up new ideas of how they might be better addressed. CSR Programmes It’s not just about pointing out the problems too. Many contractors have CSR programmes and housing associations could also use these to proactively address challenges in their communities. We run a national CSR programme called Changing Lives. So far, we’ve changed over 33,000 lives since 2015 through community projects that provide work opportunities or skills development or regenerate certain areas to help improve aspirations. One of our projects in the last year saw us work with a national housing association to provide temporary accommodation for homeless young families in Sheffield, for example. Advice for Landlords Landlords can do this by opening the channels of communication. Contractors and their on-site teams can provide regular updates or join team meetings to discuss issues on estates. They can also work in conjunction with customer care teams during their day-to-day work too, offering opinions, advice and useful context before officers contact residents. Contractors are a resource often under-used in this respect. However, landlords could not only get a better understanding of the real issues in their estates, but get the insight needed to help them solve them, by involving the people who are in their communities every day.